Forgiving the Church: How to Release the Confusion and Hurt when the Church Abuses
“How do I forgive the church?” is an interesting question. Many ask it. Many can’t answer it. Abuse by a church leader is horrendous and evil. It often goes outside of anything we ever thought or imagined a pastor or church leader could do. The very persons we thought we could trust betray by abusing.
Are you familiar with what abuse in the context of the church looks like? Child sexual abuse, sexual assault, physical and emotional abuse, breaching confidentiality, undue influence, fraud, defamation, and clergy malpractice are some examples. When trust is betrayed because of wrongful behavior by a church leader, confusion, harm, and anger set in.
Faced with the effects of abuse, a victim is torn about how to recover and heal. Sleepless nights, fears, anxiety, depression, self-esteem issues, fatigue, low energy, and irritability are all common symptoms of abuse. Because of the abuse, relationship issues, fears of intimacy, family problems, and shame are thrust into the victim’s life and she struggles with how to handle the problems. Pair that up with the abuser being a church leader, and the entire process for recovery, healing, and forgiveness exceeds most people’s understanding. Life that was once simple and good now becomes something that is nearly impossible to handle.
Forgiving the Church helps church leaders, church members, and faith communities understand what abuse looks like and how churches have a responsibility to help victims forgive. It provides stories and examples of how the church abuses and gives ideas for how to help victims begin the process of forgiveness. Although it is the victim’s responsibility to forgive, the church should take specific actions to help ensure a greater possibility that the victim can begin the forgiveness process.
Church leaders, this book will help you understand abuse in the church and what you should do to help victims begin the process of forgiveness. Victims, this book will help you begin to understand how you can start the forgiveness process when you’ve been abused by the church.
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Chapter 1 Remembering the Church of My Childhood
Chapter 2 Determining Our Beliefs about Church
In Our Homes and Families
In Our Churches
In the Christian Environment
Chapter 6 More Stories of Abuse in the Church