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In Conversation with Andrew Schmutzer, Part 2

PR: You said that there is a “need for collective restitution and healing on an international and inter-faith scale.” What would the mechanism be for a local church to interact in such a global endeavor? Is such coordination even possible?

Andrew Schmutzer:

I grew up under Apartheid (South Africa), and people didn’t think that would come down in my generation. I suppose the way voting rights were withheld from women and African-Americans in the US is a shocking change, given the entrenched ideologies that created the problem to begin with. That said, I’m profoundly saddened that addressing sexual abuse in our churches lags far behind the fall of Apartheid and Women’s Suffrage. I no longer ask if something is possible. Advocacy for the sexually abused is not a business venture. Instead, being an advocate means I blaze trails where they are needed, not where they are easy.

Like Bishop Desmond Tutu, who accomplished stunning work in the Faith and Reconciliation Commission, I hunger for genuine dialogue of a more ecumenical type for the sake of the abused in every church, ethnicity, gender, tradition, and country. My training is in theology not marketing, but the era of social media, savvy networking, and global concern over sex trafficking tells me that more can be done than presently is. In short, we need international collaboration and dialogue among faith communities for a deeper engagement of naming, confessing, repenting, forgiving, and reparation. By reparation, I refer to even the symbolic currency of apologies given by churches, denominations, key religious leaders, and international forums. This is not about money; it’s about the honesty of collective grief. I’m more than happy to join hands with all kinds of faith expressions for the purpose of collaborative ethics. The Gospel is also about ethics!

I’m not asking if it’s simple or possible; I’m seeking holistic healing that the “household of faith” (Gal. 6:10) should be pioneering for its own people. Those who have a voice are obligated to speak for those who don’t—silence is not an option for me.

On This Day of Mothers & Fathers

(For Mothers’ or Fathers’ Day)

On this day … grief is mixed with smiles,

healing with loss,

safety with haunting memories … is there a rose left for us? Too many memories of loud insults and silent wounds,

Too much confusion over what healing really means,

Too much grief unheard, unheeded, unhealed…especially on this day!

For parents who did it right—we are glad.

for happy sons and daughters, though we cannot identify

with either honest parents

or well-adjusted teens. Give these parents flowers for all the fragrant memories

that they’ve planted in their children’s hearts. But what beauty remains

for the deflowered on Father’s Day? What sweet fragrance lingers

on hypocritical roses of Mother’s Day?

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Category: Fall 2013, Ministry, Pneuma Review

About the Author: Andrew J. Schmutzer, Ph.D., is a Professor of Biblical Studies at Moody Bible Institute (Chicago, IL). He regularly writes and speaks about sexual abuse from a theological perspective, to help equip churches to care for the abused in their midst. Andrew is the editor of the collaborative book, The Long Journey Home: Understanding and Ministering to the Sexually Abused (Wipf & Stock, 2011), a contributor to numerous books including Finding Our Way Through the Traffick: Exploring the Complexities of a Christian Response to Sexual Exploitation and Sex Trafficking (Regnum Books, 2017), The Moody Handbook of Preaching (Moody, 2008), Naming Our Abuse: God's Pathways to Healing for Male Sexual Abuse Survivors (Kregel, 2016), Between Pain and Grace: A Biblical Theology of Suffering (Moody, 2016), and Genesis: See Our Story Begin (NLT Study Series). He is one of the editors of The Psalms: Language for All Seasons of the Soul (Moody, 2013), and author of Be Fruitful and Multiply: A Crux of Thematic Repetition in Genesis 1-11 (Wipf & Stock, 2009). He can be reached at aschmutz@moody.edu.

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