Cheap Grace: Churches That Ignore Abuse
The Church is known for being a grace and mercy filled people; and, this is something that should be celebrated. However, we can sometimes confuse God’s grace and mercy for cheap grace and mercy.
Don’t mistake God’s ultimate covering of sin for immediate covering of sin. When victims are encouraged to forgive, forget and be quiet in the name of “grace and mercy” this is a veiled attempt to avoid doing the hard, messy work of properly dealing with the issue by glossing over sin and crimes using spiritual lingo.
When this is allowed to happen we are neglecting to give real grace and mercy to abusers, the kind that confronts sin in such a way that it is no longer allowed to continue. We are also withholding real grace and mercy from suffering victims who’s trauma may stretch out for the rest of their lives.
When we minimize, look away from or fail to do what is in our power to put an end to abuse we are really contributing to the violence and even perpetrating a form of emotional abuse ourselves (1).
“He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.” -MLK
“If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.” -James 4:17 (NIV)
Notes and Sources:
(1) When victims find the courage to speak up about their abuse an all too common response from family, friends and professionals (secular and religious) is to blame, shame and silence the victim. This is called "secondary victimization" and often causes significant emotional pain and feelings of isolation. It may additionally cause a loss of self confidence and trust towards the should-be supporters and organizations.
For a comprehensive look at the effects of negative responses to abuse disclosure see, “Being Silenced: The Impact of Negative Social Reactions On The Disclosure Of Rape”. Department of Psychology, California State University, Courtney E. Ahrens