Mar 14, 2023Liked by Aaron Hann

Reminds of the priest in Hunchback of Notre Dame: It's not my fault (mea culpa), I'm not to blame (mea culpa)... It's those celebrity pastors that are the problem... divert & distract from the systemic problem of authoritarian leadership that subjugates women that is rampant in christendom...

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I agree with everything you said in this article, Aaron.

What do I think about Miller’s complaint? (“I feel like I’m trying to prove to everyone that I’m not a big jerk all the time, but I can’t, because you can’t prove a negative.”)

Miller’s complaint shows that he doesn’t yet understand how systemic and widespread abuse is in Christendom.

I’ve been writing and reading in the field of abuse within a Christian context for about two decades. I’ve supported hundreds if not thousands of abuse victims in Christendom, all over the world. Many of those victims were not abused by celebrities. But the abuse they suffered from leaders in small or medium sized congregations, and from so-called Christian counsellors, has often been inspired by false teaching by celebrities, big name organisations like CBMW, TGC, the GCC empire, etc.

Men who abuse their female intimate partners and are reluctantly compelled to attend a Men’s Behavior Change Program (Domestic Abuse Intervention Program) all say the same thing. They listen to other men’s accounts of how they abused their wives, and they say, “I’m not an abuser! I didn’t do the stuff that other guy did. What he did was abuse, but what I did wasn’t that bad!”

Miller’s complaint is akin in some ways to their complaint. “Don’t point the finger at me. I understand and deplore abuse. I can recognise abuse when I see it. I’m not complicit with abuse and don’t enable abuse!”

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Mar 10, 2023Liked by Aaron Hann

I really hope to find a church and pastoral team that won't be defensive. We left our church over a year ago and haven't consistently returned anywhere. I'm "one" of those people now...I left the church, deconstructed, whatever. I hear the lectures about returning, about the importance of church (we feel the absence deeply, no need to add a guilt trip), about how we can't claim to love Christ if we aren't part of the church...but I'm so hesitant right now for many reasons and one of those is that I would encounter this sort of posturing. What I sense from so many in the reformed camp is this sort of panicked defensiveness about people leaving, etc. It would be so *helpful* if they could hush a bit, listen, empathize, seek to learn, offer care and solace. There's so much Fear+Control from so many leaders. I don't think they see it as that but the more I reflect on the years we spent in those communities and the more I observe their reactions to the hurting people leaving their churches or their inability to weather just the reporting of church abuse...fear and control seem to be a big factor in their responses. That's something I'm trying to process. How do I let go of my own fear and control and find a path forward? What does it look like to be free of that?

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Thanks so much for sharing Jen, I really resonate with your difficulty. There are no easy answers, much as I wish there were for myself and my family as well! Trauma is real. Our approach for now is, when we attend church (which is very, very infrequent, and sometimes it’s just me going), being entirely ok with being one of those people who arrive a few minutes late and leave right as the service ends. The trauma recovery principle behind that is “safety is the treatment.” That’s not what “real committee Christians” do, of course, but when I hear that pressure I remember John 9:35. When Jesus heard that the Jews had cast out the blind man, Jesus went and found him (not the other way around). Jesus can find you even though you are apart from the body for now. That’s my hope for myself and my family: holding on to belief that Jesus is still the Good Shepherd, no matter what. I’ve only read a little bit so far, but The Lord is My Courage by KJ Ramsey is a really good meditation on that theme.

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"That's what real committee Christians do" may have been a typo on your part, Aaron, but it made sense to me because I thought of church-attending committee-dominating Christians who I've known and been wounded by. They were ultra-controlling, frowning, types who frequently 'shoulded' on other Christians who attended that church. They belittled, de-voiced, and judged others, and they didn't have empathy. They were very left-brain dominated. I still shrived in fear when remember how they treated me, while they were so convinced that they were taking the godly approach at all times.

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Thanks Aaron. Your reply to Jen helped me.

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Jen, may I suggest that you’re asking the wrong question. Instead of asking, “How do I let go of my own fear and control and find a path forward?” what about pondering these ideas:

Your fear is valid; it’s based on real painful experiences you have suffered. It is wise and prudent to be cautious for your safety. It is wise to withhold trust until you’ve discerned that the leadership (and overall ethos) in a local church are humble enough to be open to hearing your experiences without being defensive and without running to judge or condemn you or offer pat “fix it” answers out of their own ignorance.

You are wise to feel and to show caution or distrust.

I don’t hear you as as “wanting control” in any negative or mean-spirited way. If you do in fact want control, it is only because you want the liberty of being able to discern and decide for yourself whether an environment is safe for you, whether you will be safe if you expose your vulnerable parts to particular church leaders. Wanting that kind of ‘control’ of your own safety is not the same as church leaders wanting control in order to lord it over some or all of their congregants.

Victims of abuse are often maligned for ‘wanting control’ when all they want is safety and an environment in which they might be able to heal.

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