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In Conversation with Andrew Schmutzer, Part 2

On this day… what should we give to mothers and fathers

who stole so much and admitted so little? We do have: Promises for our little ones ~ God help us do right by them!

Smiles and some laughter for new families ~ may new rituals bury the old!

Letters to be read one day, when we’re gone ~ let them grieve with insight!

Tears for the ground that has felt them before ~ let new memories grow there!

But flowers!

Yes, some flowers for mothers and fathers…

not our own, but those who have held us

and taught us to hold.

On this day, we have warm tears

for our broken mothers and fathers.

But to special friends who shed the Samaritan’s tear…

for them, we have flowers.

A testimony offered in the name of the One

Who: created,

wept,

and was buried in a garden.

Jesus Christ, our sweet Flower of Glory,

The “Rose of Sharon” is ours,

flowering most fragrantly in broken hearts.

AJS, 5/8/09 Amen.

 

PR: Pragmatically speaking, how would you hope readers would respond to this chapter?

Andrew Schmutzer:

I would like to see knowledge increase, policies change, leaders become more vulnerable. I want people to understand that working with the sexually abused is about care, not cure. Most abused will live with serious struggles for the rest of their lives—the non-abused need to accept this as much as the abused. We live “South of Eden” now, and the prevalence of sexual abuse is a good indicator of this. Living within the Creator’s relational ecosystem also means that there are contexts of healing: personal, communal, and theological. For example, the theology of the image of God means we must affirm the embodied reality of life; healing must encompass all of these realms, physical, social, and spiritual.

Understanding why the abused struggle so much with a God who “never stepped in” means we must be more creative in how we address survivors in the context of worship. Leaders must understand how sexual abuse can colonize itself in families, lasting generations. Praying Psalm 51 doesn’t heal years of toxic evil practice. Understanding the relational ecosystem also means we are able to detect ways the evil of sexual abuse has vandalized entire families, communities, and congregations. I want people to understand how some kinds of evil have an after-life, polluting relational layers far removed from the original act (if it can even be found!). All these realms of relationship—with God, family, and self—can be disoriented by sexual abuse. Maybe it’s time to hear about these struggles first-hand in some testimonies.

Abuse care has been slow to come of age. I pray that the church I love will live out its concern for social justice and reach out to the abused walking among them. It’s time to break the sacred silence for “the least of these.”

PR

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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) and a contributor to the forthcoming book, Finding Our Way Through the Traffick: Exploring the Complexities of a Christian Response to Sexual Exploitation and Sex Trafficking (Regnum Books). He can be reached at aschmutz@moody.edu.

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