Protect your ass, you mean

Recently I took an online “course” designed to protect Christian ministries from lawsuits arising from child sexual abuse.

I knew it was going to be annoying, but it was worse than I had anticipated.

Here are some (but definitely not all) of the curriculum deficiencies:

  • There was very little information about helping victims of child abuse
  • Many of the recommendations were protective of the church over the child
  • There were broad, unsubstantiated allegations about the victims of child abuse and their families which included saying that they were mentally disabled and prone to familial dysfunction
  • The course stated and repeated that the adult survivors of child sexual abuse were not emotionally stable, neither able nor willing to process and recover from childhood trauma
  • The methods of ferreting out both abuse and abusers were shot through with harmful stereotypes and inadequate information
  • The course taught the participant to favor in-organization reporting over direct and immediate reporting to law enforcement, legal guardians, and child protective services
  • The test reinforced curriculum biases

I contacted the company directly after I took the course and asked them for information on their source material and bibliography.

No answer.

I am not a rape victim, but I was targeted by at least one pedophile when I was young, and I have children who are childhood sexual assault survivors.

I am not “low IQ,” and my children are all smarter than I am. Had any of us been “low IQ” (term taken directly from course material), we would still deserve help from the law and relief from abuse.

Our individual and collective intelligence was not the reason my children were molested by my adopted son, but it also did not save us from protracted and compounded grief.

First from the felonies,

Later from the way “good people did nothing,” or worse still, did things to let us know they wanted to silence our story.

Jesus said, tell the little children they will always be safe with me.

Yet in order to protect their legal asses big, well-known communities and institutions all over this country are serving up biased, unsubstantiated defamation of childhood rape victims and their families in place of solid, simple procedures to ensure that children are safe in church and that the law is followed.

It should never be “protect my ministry,” over protect the children.

Matthew 18

The Supine Condition

It helps me sometimes, to picture all of us in our sheep costumes, thin elastic chin straps, holding on our faces.

Helps me to remember

We are all sheep

If you don’t count the wolves among us

And all we, like sheep have gone astray

So you will not be the one to forgive my helpless anger

At all the lambs lost to slaughter

While the Shepherd was away.

The Stone Lions

I go to the stone lions, lean my head against their solid, immovable weight. I tell them the things one might tell a friend–stretches of fatigue and loneliness, grim sorties in search of solace in strange and blasted places, words for anger, stones for real

Children who cry out

Hosanna! Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes

In the name of the Lord!

-Luke 19:40

Walmart Sunday School

As much as I feel like I have won the lottery when I go to Walmart and snag a short checkout line, I have a pocket full of unforgettable stories that only happened because I had to wait in a monster line.

Last night I did not have to wait and got the story too.

I asked my cashier if Father’s Day was a busy day.  She said not too bad but that Sunday after church is no picnic.

Apparently some of the church crowd can be a little preachy and impatient, lecturing the minimum wage employees of megastores on how they should not work on Sundays and…goose things up and move the line faster.

While she and I commiserated on the hypocrisy she very efficiently checked through my groceries, including a bundt cake.  The customer next to me exclaimed toward the cake–


Unlike our often fussy, judgmental, loveless brand of Christianity, the bundt cake was unmistakable inviting.

Jesus Had Two Dads…

Ironically I first ran across this interesting “justification” of same sex parenting when I was researching the story of a young boy who was trafficked and sexually exploited by his “dads.”

I still grieve for him and the terrible tragedy of his life with them…and I ask who will pick up the pieces?

There are plenty of wretched parents of all sorts of backgrounds, and I do not–not think that homosexuality disqualifies a person from great parenting any more than I believe that heterosexuality engenders great parenting.

Let’s face it, most of us are just ok parents, and some of us are just plain lousy.

But back to the marquee statement–

Jesus had two dads…and he turned out ok.

When I read that statement my first reaction is–really?!?

And my second is–have you read the story?!!

Dying beaten and broken on a Roman cross is not ok.

It is the death of a criminal.

Jesus died with murders, thieves, terrorists.

He believed he was paying the ultimate price for a broken world.

Do you?

How to be a failure

First of all, let me restate for the record:

I am an egregious sinner and a (to quote my adopted daughter)–“failed parent.”

So yeah. Don’t be me:)

Second, a story…

When I first became a parent it was to a 12 year old boy who had been through hell.

He flipped out fast, threw rocks at our neighbors’ cars, and his caseworker told us our only option was to call the police.

Our next two charges we kept, despite the fact that they screamed at the top of their lungs 2-3 hours a day.

We lived in a cute little neighborhood. Imagine our neighbors’ chagrin when the howling started and their tremendous relief when we finally moved.

Imagine being young, reasonably cute and surrounded by a maelstrom of LOUD everywhere you went.

I still can’t believe we did it.

But we did.

Because we believed

In Jesus

Still believe, actually.

Before I wrote this I asked my oldest biological child how how life would have been different for this child and the family if I had followed advice we have encountered over and over about hiding our adopted son’s predations.

The answer was a chilling thing–

If I had, if we had, hidden the crimes against our children and supported their predator, we would have unleashed darkness on our children.

In other words–we had to tell the truth, be the failures in the eyes of family, church, and community to succeed in the one thing that matters–showing our children they are precious.

In fact I would say this to all of them the same–you are precious.

And if you are a threat to yourselves or others I will be the first person to call the police.

Because, my dear, we all deserve the law–it’s gravity and protection.

Beneath a grim and unavoidable Cross.

Fairy Tale Beginnings

Imagine you are a reasonably attractive young person in your 20s. You are educated and have an interesting job with growth potential.

Then…you enter into a completely voluntary relationship with two fairy tale creatures. Think frog in well, old lady at door of castle material. There is a spell that has been cast over them, you, intrepid young person, must break the spell!

This requires enduring a lot of verbal abuse, physical abuse (fairy tale creatures are small but fierce and sometimes quite wild).

You hang on, barely, telling yourself each day that the humiliation and loss you feel is worth the investment in these small people, I mean enchanted creatures. Someone has to break enchantments, why not you?

Yolo; I know. That is part of the heartbreak. To “waste” your youth on the ungrateful and the enslaved can feel like desert living.

When they get older, larger, and more criminal, it can feel like…well let’s just say not a fairy tale.

The other people in the enchanted woods look a little queasy when you spill your tale–what? No magic reveal? No broken spells? What the heck?!

You can see it in their faces–please stay away from us, we live in this forest and are invested in keeping up magic appearances.

But you know the secret–dark, sad, but unavoidable secret. There is only one happily ever after and there is only one handsome prince.

He was the unlikeliest of Redeemer Princes–unremarkable, a tradesman. Itinerate, shekel-less. He died a miserable death and seemed to indicate there would be rough and uncertain times for his kingdom.

His spell-breaking talisman seemed a little too brief–follow me.

Like we would want to do that. Like that would be pretty. Like hell itself would be a picnic.

But of course, hell was just a place on a narrow road for him. It was not his destination. So keep up, girl, the story isn’t over…

Isaiah 58


Last Sunday night I went to church. Nice church. Comfortable. Friendly. Relaxed atmosphere. Even stayed in the sanctuary for half the sermon. The rest of the time I hung out with the under 5 set in a very nice foyer. It was my best church experience in a long time.
A nice man said they had childcare. There was a moment when I thought about spilling my story.
I don’t leave my kids much because….
Well, once you realize you trusted a wolf in sheep’s clothing you realize you are a bad detector of sheep costumes

Everyone is except the other wolves.