By Danni Moss
Copyright protected, all rights reserved
One of the accusations hurled at me regularly regarding this blog is that I am over-exaggerating the seriousness of the situation of abuse in the church. I am told that the problems of both clergy sex abuse and domestic violence in the church are rare and limited to strange, extreme, non-mainstream churches.
I have addressed the fallacy of this assumption elsewhere on my blog, but another thought occurred to me today. To give a little bit of a picture of how big this “molehill” really is, here are some facts.
Click on the link in the right sidebar for “Protestant Clergy Sex Abuse in the News.” See how many pastors and church workers appear there. Now, remember that my collection is quite incomplete — I don’t find every news story. Also, by far, most instances of clergy sex abuse are never reported. Almost all of the ones I know about personally have never been reported.
Now, looking at the number of news stories about clergy sex abuse, consider that I talk to many people experiencing domestic violence in the church to every one of those clergy abuse news stories. And again, I’m only talking to the tiniest fraction of women and men experiencing domestic abuse in the church.
And every one of those people I talk to, and every one of those news stories, literally affects many, many other lives — and the well-being of future generations.
Now, there’s one other important step to this exercise. What is God’s perspective?
For just a tiny peak, here are a couple statements by Jesus.
But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh! — Matt. 18:6-7
The one who is giving offense is the church! Not all the church is giving offense, obviously. But it includes a large segment of mainstream Christianity, not a small set of fringe weirdos.
And God has more to say about what He thinks of this problem, in this same context…
Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.
For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.
How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray?
And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray.
Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish. — Matt. 18:10-14
So, does it matter? Am I over-exaggerating the seriousness with which God views this?
Rather than me making a mountain out of a molehill, the church is making a molehill out of a mountain. We are so busy picking the splinter out of the world’s eye, we have utterly neglected the beam blinding our own.