Some things need to be broken so that something new and redemptive can be made from the pain and the pieces.
A “Christian” man from a nationally known conservative evangelical family who lives just 20 miles down the road from me has recently been arrested on charges of child pornography. His second national sexual scandal is particularly disturbing to me because my father, a minister, a pastor, a retired military man . . . after being convicted of raping a minor at the age of 70 something persisted in his perversion as well . . . until his death.
I reported his behavior as a child but his credentials, his career, his ministry, his charisma, his intelligence, and his articulation were privileged and dictated the outcome. I was left to fend for myself at his hands. He used more assaults, shaming, and beatings to try to keep me silenced and “in submission.”
Thirty years later, I was the state’s corroborating witness because my testimony was eerily similar to that of the 13-year-old in the witness stand. Even though I have prayed for him, and felt grieved for who he was, we haven’t been in contact since that day in court when I stuck my finger in his face and said. “You may have these people fooled with your lies and your self-righteous indignation, but I remember what you did to me, and you know what you did. . . you are not going to get away with it this time.” He winced. Those were the last words I ever spoke to him.
Several years later, while still on probation, the sheriff’s department showed up at his house once again, this time to confiscate his computers. They were tracking him on child pornography sites which violated the terms of his probation. I learned of this violation weeks after I received word of his death. The system was gentle with him; thus, he was never “broken” in repentance. We are tough on some people, but not people like my dad. He stood 6 feet tall, broad shouldered, barrel chested, chiseled chin, handsome . . . white, with brown curly hair and beautiful big eyes. . . my eyes.
The American sin and culture of racism is no less insidious than the persistent defiance of a pedophile, thus it requires no less collective action to demolish it, and to remove its preferences and privileges from our laws, policies, and practices. Like individual sin, cultural, and systemic (group) sin will not fall without significant humility and effort.
To make a “more perfect union” we must break up the foundational assumptions upon which our current “imperfection” is fortified. Idolatries such as racism and other power abuses will not go voluntarily, because they have a death grip on our collective souls similar to the grip on pedophiliac perpetrators.
As a nation, we have worshipped (bowed down to) things and people that pander to our power, passions, and profits. Historically white, charismatic, articulate, influential, men and women have benefitted the most. Many of these have called themselves pastors, evangelists, and “prophets.” Ultimately, they are idols which must be crushed up like the golden calf in the desert.
From the breaking we could yield to a re-making . . .
poor enough to realize our need for God,
grief-stricken with those who mourn,
humble enough to listen to the hurting,
hungry and thirsty for restorative justice,
merciful to the oppressed,
. . . and even if necessary. . .
we could make ourselves willing to be persecuted for doing right for our neighbors (Matthew 5:3-10).
By Doc Courage