Be warned, gentle readers, for what I am about to write has the gentle strains of “No More Mister Nice Guy” running through my noggin…
For several months now, I have been thinking and reading about “What does it mean to be a Christian?” This question arises in my innermost thoughts every four years or so, when the three ring circus that is “American politics” swings into the Presidential election. I feel sorry for evangelicals in America this year. Since voting Democrat is apostasy in the US de A (‘scuse my French…), evangelicals have to choose between the serial adulterer and the Mormon in order to assure that “good Christian values” are once more represented in the White House.
(never mind that Obama has been faithfully married to the same woman for 19 years, and has been a member of Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ since the early 80’s. We need someone in the White House who is friendly to Christians… my head hurts…)
Let me start moving towards my point. I have been trying to stay current with the whole PBI thing without letting it consume my life right now. I recently had a chance to be present at a meeting with Mark Maxwell, and I have to say this. I was sorely tempted to go into that meeting with guns drawn and Bible in my hand, ready to call down fire and brimstone on his head. But a couple of people whose judgement and wisdom I trust completely told me “Mark Maxwell is a good guy – give him a chance”. So I did. While I still don’t want to trust Maxwell, I am willing to believe that he is committed to finding justice in the situation at PBI. Since then I have seen both Mark Maxwell and Linda Fossen take sincere steps toward a peaceful resolution of the conflict between “survivors” and “administration”, and I think they should both be commended for their efforts so far.
However, Facebook has shown me that not everyone who has an opinion in this mess has the same commitment to peaceful resolution that Mark and Linda have demonstrated to me. And now I turn to them:
Galations 6:1-3 says: “Live creatively, friends. If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day’s out. Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ’s law. If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived.”
(Read that again in case you missed it the first time.)
You have been calling down condemnation on Linda and her associates for quite some time now. Some even refer to her and her friends as “bitches”. Where is Jesus in that? (Answer? Nowhere.)
You cast critical comments her way because she dares to threaten PBI, and somehow in your minds that means she is threatening God Himself. I have a newsflash for you – God is a big boy. He can take care of Himself. If he wants PBI to remain where it is, a million Linda Fossens would not be able to move a single pebble. If God does not want PBI to remain, a million alumni will not be able to stand in His way. Being a “good Christian” has no more to do with defending an institution than it has to do with blindly following one political party.
I hear over and over again, “Linda and her friends keep pointing out the bad that happened at Prairie, without mentioning the good that happened.” Really? That surprises you? Newsflash – THEY WERE SEXUALLY ABUSED!!! Focusing on the negative is kinda what happens. Deal with it.
In Matthew 25 Jesus had this to say:
41-43“Then he will turn to the ‘goats,’ the ones on his left, and say, ‘Get out, worthless goats! You’re good for nothing but the fires of hell. And why? Because—
I was hungry and you gave me no meal,
I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
I was homeless and you gave me no bed,
I was shivering and you gave me no clothes,
Sick and in prison, and you never visited.’
44“Then those ‘goats’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or homeless or shivering or sick or in prison and didn’t help?’
45“He will answer them, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you failed to do one of these things to someone who was being overlooked or ignored, that was me—you failed to do it to me.’
I think it would be safe to add these verses in this context:
“I was raped, and you did not believe me.”
“I was abused, and you offered protection to my abuser.”
“I came forward, and you called me a liar.”
What you are doing to Linda and her friends – you are doing to Jesus.
When we hear the stories that are coming out right now, the Christian thing to say is NOT “Be quiet, forgive and forget”. Micah 6:8 says “No, O people, the LORD has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” The right thing – the merciful thing – is to say, “I cannot believe this happened. This should never have happened. This is not right. We need to make it right.”
Amos 5 says:
21 “I hate all your show and pretense—
the hypocrisy of your religious festivals and solemn assemblies.
22 I will not accept your burnt offerings and grain offerings.
I won’t even notice all your choice peace offerings.
23 Away with your noisy hymns of praise!
I will not listen to the music of your harps.
24 Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice,
an endless river of righteous living.”
Quite frankly, if we cannot respond to the survivors with love and a commitment to seeking justice, we have no business calling ourselves followers of Jesus.
(And if we are going to bully them, call them names, and threaten them with legal action, we have no business being in ministry. Just sayin’…)
So alumni, instead of critical comments and calls for lawsuits, how about sharing the burdens of those who have been abused? And by sharing their burdens, I do not mean making them talk to anonymous alumni. Has anyone considered the possibility that some of these anonymous alumni may play a part in the stories that these survivors tell? “Sharing their burdens” in this case means joining them in their quest for truth and justice. This is not about destroying the school. This is not about Salem-style witch hunts. This is about justice.
Remember justice? The stuff the God we say we follow wants to see rivers of?
If you think you’re too good for that, you’re badly deceived.