good news gone bad

It seems like almost every week there’s another thing to be traumatized about in the news. Between gun violence and political fiascos with big consequences and natural disasters, so many are wrung out.

Each time, there’s some kind a “Christian” response. “Let us keep our guns.” “Trump is God’s guy and it’s time to get back to our country’s biblical values.” “Floods are God’s way of warning an unrepentant people.”

It’s easy to say that that response comes from a small fringe. That it’s so sad that a tiny group of people are representing our faith to so many. That “we’re not like that.”

Then the past few weeks it’s been Roy Moore. An outspoken evangelical. The judge who stood up for the 10 commandments. The candidate backed by Steve Bannon, whose insidious ways of steering our country through the media and the halls of the White House will be haunting us for years. A judge who has 5 women testifying he harmed them when they were teenagers and he was in his 30’s. A leader with people in his camp drawing parallels to Jesus’ earthly parents to justify abuse.

Oh.my.God.

Some days it’s really all just too much. A dark comedy. A travesty.

But here’s the deal—it’s real.

It’s not something to laugh at. It’s real women embodying why victims never speak out. It’s a whole bunch of people saying #metoo with no one listening. It’s the circling of wagons around a theology that harms people over and over again. It’s a prime example of a dirty, rotten system of Christianity that so many are fleeing from, and for good reason.

I’m not going to go on and on about why evangelicalism in its current form is dying. There are many others who can write about that more eloquently than I.

Today, I just wanted to say this out loud—it makes me sick that so many have been harmed by a construct that was truly supposed to be built upon the good news of Jesus.

It’s good news gone bad.

It’s often become bad news, terrible news, awful news, especially for women and people on the underside of power.

Right now, so many people I know are re-traumatized by what’s happening in the Roy Moore case. Already teetering on whether or not they can hold on to their Christian faith in good conscience, when they read responses like “this is all just a ploy from the liberal left and spiritual warfare against us” it once again seals that same deal—“No one cares that I was physically abused, sexually abused, spiritually abused. They only care about their own self-protection.”

Women and men abuse victims are left with the same old garbage we’re used to dealing with, and it’s wrong.

The system is so broken.

It’s so tilted against the vulnerable, the humble, the hurting.

It’s so unequally balanced.

It’s so brutally misogynistic.

It’s so incredibly unhealthy.

It’s so…ugly and gross.

Seriously.

Yet as I write this I know there are good and lovely and wonderful evangelical Christians who don’t deserve to be lumped into the same barrel with the Roy Moore’s of the world. I’m glad I’ve seen some use their voices for good, denouncing biblical connections to Mary and Joseph and calling for evangelical repentance.

I do think that many evangelical Christians are going to have to sort out their future, and I do hope for some truly prophetic changes.

Meanwhile, my heart is for the hurting and sick-and-tired of being on the underside of this dirty rotten system, who have been used and abused and silenced and unvalued and controlled and had their dignity stripped in all kinds of ways.  

I just want to say this today: I’m sorry.

You’re not crazy.

It’s harmful.

It’s wrong.

It is the antithesis of what Jesus embodied.

And it’s not worth spending your guts trying to fix.

Instead, find people who do believe you.

Find places your gifts can flourish.

Find spaces where you can break free of shame.

Find positions where you can be treated equally.

Find leaders that don’t ask you to follow them.

Find ways to heal your broken heart.

Find kindreds who are stumbling and bumbling into a free-er faith, too.

Find your strength to stand against the crazy in whatever way you can.

Find God in new ways and get used to be calling a heretic.

Find what good news could really mean for this season of your story.

Find your soul.

It’s not lost.

It just got stuck serving a system that didn’t care for it properly because it’s been spending an inordinate amount of energy protecting itself and making good news go bad.

Even though I sometimes want to block them all out, I actually think keeping Roy Moore and his cronies (who are replicated over and over in cities across the world, without the Southern accent) in our sights is wise.

It can help us walking toward something different, something good.

Kathy Escobar

Kathy Escobar co-pastors at The Refuge, a Christian community and mission center in North Denver and is the author of Faith Shift: Finding Your Way Forward When Everything You Believe is Coming Apart and several other books.

2 Comments

  • Kathy, thanks for such a powerful and thoughtful reflection on appalling conditions. I’m glad for your strong support and encouragement of those who have or are suffering from abuses like those I’m completely convinced Roy Moore is guilty of (as are many others, across the religious and political spectrum). They need those kinds of words and active support.

    I’m also glad you say to keep “… Roy Moore and his cronies… in our sights…”. And by implication, keep speaking out, working to change things. They ARE changing, although seeing the strong resistance to it is disheartening also. One of my thoughts, watching some of the resistance from Moore’s wife and women supporters even as I’m writing, is that they don’t (won’t?) recognize that we all wear masks and some (like Moore) have perfected abuse through using them. Their reaction is largely understandable though not excusable. They refuse to be open and face the fact that Moore (and many others) live a starkly double life; that they use religion (“recognizing God”, 10 Commandments, etc.) to help deny their dark side both to themselves and to others.

    This happens to be one of the major dysfunctional dynamics that I’ve long observed among conservatively-oriented Christians, even when I was still “in the fold” but studying and practicing psych/counseling…. The idealization of “new life in Christ”, “all things are new”, etc…. without facing reality when their “shadow side” rears its head, as it inevitably will.

    Reply
    • thanks, howard. always great to hear from you! i love your thoughts and the reality of that double life, the weird denial. it’s all a bit nuts but the hyper-conservative christian culture perpetuates it. happy thanksgiving from colorado.

      Reply

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