Interview with Boz Tchividjian, Founder of Grace

The horrors of child abuse not only extinguishes the innocence of childhood, but so often defines survivors who spend a lifetime struggling to process such devastating childhood trauma. When abuse is perpetrated in faith communities and is rationalized with scripture and distorted theology, most victims come to understand God as the ultimate abuser. All too often, these precious souls get weary of processing what seems to be a forever dark journey and simply give up hope.

Last year, I was privileged to come into contact with an amazing individual who is walking that journey and has given up hope more than once. The life of Trudy Metzger is one that is both deeply tragic and remarkably hopeful. She was the one beaten and left to die on the side of the road in the parable of the Good Samaritan. She is also the one pursued, embraced, and loved by the ultimate Good Samaritan. Trudy’s journey is not unlike the painful journey of so many others who are weary and who have or are giving up hope.   Her life is a declaration that there is hope.  

In order to share this hope with others, Trudy recently wrote a book about her journey entitled,Between 2 Gods.   This amazingly honest memoir doesn’t hide the truth about the deep physical, emotional, and spiritual pains caused by childhood trauma. It also doesn’t hide the truth about a loving God who crosses the road and gets down into the dirt with the hurting and brutalized.

I hope that we can all find some comfort in Trudy’s words that have been formed out of a life that for all intensive purposes should have ended long ago. I’m so grateful God had other plan. – Boz

Boz: Can you tell us a little bit about your family background?
Trudy: I was the 12th living child, of what would eventually be 16, born into an Old Colony Russian Mennonite home. With a history of unaddressed abuse and violence in my father’s family, and murder and unacknowledged sexual abuse in my mother’s family, we didn’t stand much of a chance at escaping abuse. Intertwined with this were deeply rooted religious beliefs that presented God as volatile and harsh, rather than a kind ‘Abba Father’—or ‘Papa’—who loves us and understands our humanity.

Boz: What was it about the culture you grew up in that you believe contributed to an abusive environment?
Trudy: This topic would produce at least a chapter, but more likely a book, if covered with any kind of thoroughness. Certainly male dominance was a problem—and I say that as someone who believes all are created equal, with something of value to contribute in every situation—and this robbed women and children of any voice. Contributing to this was the ‘elders are to be respected view’ that required younger children to submit to older siblings, giving older siblings almost the same authority as parents. While these older siblings were not necessarily the abusers, the mentality very much affirmed ‘voicelessness’ and demanded submission and surrender to the wishes of anyone older. This is a set up for abuse throughout life.

I want to add that our communities in Mexico were infested with sexual abuse on every level, and it was not only the girls who were victimized by fathers, brothers and men in general. Male to male violations were a tragic reality, leaving young boys devastated by the impact of rape, often from older boys or fathers. Teen boys raped teen girls and older girls seduced younger boys, and mothers molested their children. I wouldn’t have known all of this in childhood, and didn’t address its brutality in my book but it goes without saying that such depravity is the result of multiple issues, not only male dominance.

Another piece was little teaching about sex, and what was communicated was presented more in strict warnings to ‘not sin’, and warnings to protect against ‘evil boys’. This made sex an altogether horrid thing, feeding the unhealthy lifestyles and resulting in much sexual promiscuity on besides abuse.

Continue reading interview here: Rhymes with Religions

Love

~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger

Between 2 Gods Facebook Page

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Letter to Jesus

Dear Jesus,

It feels odd to write You a letter… Odd, yet appropriate. It’s different than prayer, or ‘just chatting’ about life stuff…. Strangely more personal, more vulnerable. Makes me wonder if it’s how King David felt when his prayer were written out for others to read.

There is so much in my heart. So much that I feel, but cannot say easily. I feel like You truly have prepared a table for me, in the presence of my enemies. They wave their swords all around, but their threats and rants fade into background noise, as I eat the spread before me, and gaze into Your eyes. How beautiful, and filled with love, those eyes are. I could gaze eternally…

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How different from the days before I knew You… When I thought of God as a harsh and distant ruler. One who judges quickly, irrationally, and rejects those who fall. The one who allows men and women to use, abuse and violate little children. How different from the days when I thought He loved me less for what I had been through, that He had even allowed it because He loved me less.

God. The very word made me cringe.

And then I met you, Jesus. You told me that you are God, that if I know and love You, then I know and love the Father. That You, Jesus, and Your Father, and the Holy Spirit are God. That You came to be ‘God among us’. And then I understood. You are kind, loving and healing. You loved sinners and even let harlots cling to your feet, weeping. No disdain. No rejection. And you invited children to come to You, to be near you. Safe.

That’s when I saw the real God. The God I longed for. I understood, then, that those who had represented God, as a harsh taskmaster, had misrepresented Him terribly. That those who used, abuse and violated children, also violated God. And those who covered for them, were no less innocent of the evil. And I knew that God must hate that violation.

When I saw Your healing touch, in Your loving hands, and heard His voice when You spoke… then I knew I had fallen in love with my Abba Father–my Papa–for the very first time. All those years of distant mistrust fled, and I fell into His arms, safe, for the first time, in His presence.

Oh, I know…. I’ve thrown my fits. I’ve had my tantrums. I’ve yelled into the night. I’ve screamed at the pain, and wondered why He would let me suffer…. why He would let others suffer so much more than me… I’ve raged against the corruption and injustices, committed in His name, by His children… I’ve all but shaken my fists at Him in that blackest of nights…

I’ve not been the ‘princess’ at His side, all dressed in frilly dresses, neat and tidy and proper….

No, it’s often been more like sitting down in mud puddles, while throwing tantrums, and staining that pretty dress….

But still I know that am accepted. Still my Papa loves me and delights in me. He looks at me, and, as if missing the stains on my dress, He lifts me into His arms and begins to sing.

Love…

Pure…

Sweet…

Love…

And He begins to dance, spinning me round, and round. There is no one else in the world, nothing else that matters… I am held and loved…

So, Jesus, my letter is a simple thank you. Thank you for showing me what love is. That it is kind, redemptive, healing and forgiving. That it lays down even life itself, for another–even those who don’t deserve it.

Thank you that You did not come to condemn, but to save. And thank you, thank you, for showing me who Your Father really is, by showing me who You really are. You bridged the gap between my heart, and His. I love Him more than life, and the fear is gone. In it’s place is reverence and awe, that He–so Holy and Just–would love me. I come reverently, yet boldly, to Him, knowing His sceptre of blessing is already extended, just waiting for me to receive it. He was a stumbling block in my life, but You made Him my friend.

In knowing You, I have met and known my Papa. And in knowing Him, I have found myself. All the lies that life–with it’s pain, abuse and violence–screamed so vehemently at me, are gone. They have lost their power. Because now I know that God is good, and I am loved. Those truths have made all the difference.

Thank you, Jesus. I love you!

~ one healed little girl ~

“You dance over me… while I am unaware… You sing all around…”
~ Lincoln Brewster, ‘Amazed’

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© Trudy Metzger

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Letter to the Victim of Sexual Abuse

Dear Friend,

It has been more than a week since I started this letter, and still I haven’t made it past the opening lines…  Of all the letters I have written, this one is the most difficult, because it requires that I reach into the deepest pain in my own soul, to identify with the burden you carry.

In a way I have become so familiar with my pain, in speaking openly and doing ministry out of that pain, that it has lost its power… and sometimes I forget how hard it was. That is, until I think of you and see the raw agony of your battle. It is then that I am forced to see the trauma of abuse as it really is, before healing comes and hope rises out of that pain.

And I need to remember. If I cannot let my heart return to the memory of that battle, and ‘know’ that pain, then my expectations will become unrealistic. I will not extend to you the grace you need to fight through the ‘hell’ of that pain, and struggle with God in the process.

So, as I think of what you have been through, my heart cringes because I remember that daunting journey. I don’t have words  of wisdom that will instantly transport you beyond the struggle. There is only one way to reach light of daybreak, and it is by experiencing the blackest part of the night. And that blackest hour of the struggle is the only way to be free of the grip of sexual abuse. There is no short cut, no easy way.

Beyond the darkest hour, the world bursts with life and light.
Beyond the darkest hour, the world bursts with life and light.

And, while I understand the pain, the trauma and struggle of overcoming abuse, your struggle is unique to you. I can love, support, pray and care, but I cannot walk the path for you, or understand your unique battle. While I can’t do it for you, I can tell you that fighting that battle and facing that pain is the best thing you can do. It is key to your freedom.

Having said that, don’t do it alone. The pain and trauma of abuse and betrayal is too deep for us to walk through alone. Find someone… a friend, a counsellor, a mentor.. someone who will walk you through the ‘hell’ of that pain and still love you. You need them to keep you grounded, to remind you of who you are, and the purpose you have.

When you were abused, you began to believe a lie. Each time you were violated, that lie grew stronger, and in returning to the pain, you will face that lie more intimately than ever before.

When you are abused it’s as if a lie begins to pursue you. Everywhere you turn, you hear it whisper, ‘you are worthless… you are ugly… you are trash…. you are used…’ and so on. The lie grows strong, over the years, and we fear it. We fear if others find out that they will see us that way too, and so we run… We run in fear and denial.

But the day you stop running, the day you turn around and walk back courageously into that memory, the lie begins to lose its power. Oh, it will try to overtake you. It will scream more loudly than ever, because you are growing stronger, but don’t quit.

When you return, ask Jesus to come with you. Ask Him to revisit that place of pain and trauma, and to show you what happened there. Ask Him to show you the lies you believed, because of what was done to you. And then invite Him to show you the truth, to tell you who you really are. Ask Him how He sees you. Invite Him to define you, to restore your true identity.

Because of life’s experience, you have been robbed of the ability to see yourself as you really are, as God created you, with great value. If you listen to Him, and let Him speak truth over the lies, the lies will lose their power, their grip, and you will be free from them.

It’s not an easy thing. Running seems easier. But the truth is that running is hard and facing the pain, in order to discover the truth, while hard, is worth it. I encourage you to keep going. I would do it for you, if I could, because I’ve done it and have discovered that it is possible to be free.

I’m sorry that you were abused, violated, stripped of identity, and used. I’m sorry that it left you feeling lost, lonely, broken and wondering if you’ll ever be whole again. I’m sorry that it opened a door for demons to attack you. I’m sorry for how you have suffered. And I’m sorry you have to go back. I’m sorry because I know what it takes.

I know you can do it, with God. Getting rid of those lies is the key to a full life, a bright hope, and a future with purpose. I will cheer for you, walk with you, care for you, and never stop believing that you can do it. Never quit!

With heartfelt love and a prayer for peace,
~ someone who is no longer a victim ~

Ps. Thought I’d share a few of my favourite songs right now, that help me see how much I am loved, and how great my God is. I’m not doing this fight alone.

Stronger — Hillsong
It’s Your Love – Hillsong
You Hold Me Now — Hillsong

© Trudy Metzger

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Letter to The Preacher

Dear Preacher,

This letter may come as a surprise to you, since our paths have gone separate ways and I have no ongoing relationship or connections with you. (No doubt we both remember well how that went down.)

I hardly know where to begin… My thoughts may be best expressed with splashes of ink, representing the tears I have cried. How to unravel those thoughts and share with you what is on my heart?

If you have forgotten who I am, I was the teenager, who was bound, bent and determined to defy you, and all leadership. At least that is how you saw it. In reality, and not to justify rebellion, but to help you understand other teenagers like me, I was confused. I knew that breaking your rules would get me in trouble. And it did. But I also knew that then you would see me, that you would know how angry I felt. Maybe, just maybe, then you would reach out and help me.

I was angry for so many reasons that I cannot tell them all. But there are a few very important reasons I would like to share with you. First, I was angry because I was always criticized. My dresses were too ‘edgy’, always pushing the standard, always ‘riding the fence’, as we were often told. My hair was never pulled back quite tight enough. My heels were a bit too high–even the ones I was given by your daughter. I talked to freely, and wasn’t ‘meek and quiet’, the way a woman should be.

I looked around too much when I entered a room. (This was said to be flirtatious, attention seeking. But if you had grown up in my home, where at any turn you could get hit, where your father threatened to kill you, then you too would learn to always be aware of your environment. And you’d pretend to be confident too, to make yourself feel less vulnerable.)

Alone in my room at night, I would sit on my deep window sill, sometimes for hours into the night, just looking at the sky, and crying. Fearful. Any sound in the night made my heart freeze.

What if it was Jesus coming back and He too found me unacceptable? I so desperately wanted to know God, back then. Wanted so much to know I was in His family. Accepted. Saved. Loved. But for all my prayers and crying, I felt as though I was never good enough. Almost every revival meetings I stood to my feet, fighting guilt, shame and rejection. Maybe this time would be the magic moment. It never came.

The church sang “Almost Persuaded”, and I was that… Almost Persuaded that I would never make it. They sang, “Just as I am…” but I knew that ‘as I was’ would never be good enough for God. They sang, “Softly and Tenderly, Jesus is calling…” and somehow my heart knew it was true, but all I could really hear was the loud screams of judgement… that I was a failure, destined to never know peace.

Meetings, after meetings, I fought this battle. Always ending with the same desperate hopelessness. Little did I realize that my guilt was false guilt. The result of memories deeply buried in my subconscious, that would surface many years later. And only after coming to terms with the sexual abuse and violence of early childhood, and the abuse that later happened in the church, would that guilt and shame finally leave me.

Only then would I sit through revival meetings in peace, with the confidence that I am a part of God’s family. I don’t need to measure up. Yes, I give Him the best that I can, because I love Him, but my salvation does not rise and fall, on false guilt, or when I fall into sin. He loves me. Accepts me. I am His. And when He shows me that I have sinned, I repent quickly, because I love Him.

More importantly, He loves me. He thinks I’m so special that He sings over me with delight. (Zephaniah 3:17) He has even written a book about me! Having discovered that love, I have learned to love Him, and love others.

And one of the things that His forgiving love has taught me, is to forgive others. Because of that love, I forgive you.

I learned many years later that you knew of the abuse I suffered, and did nothing. You covered it, to protect your family name… because the perpetrator was your son. All the while you excommunicated congregants for bad attitudes, for listening to the radio, for not wearing the right clothes, among other things that you labelled sin. But the sins of your sons, and other church members, you kept carefully hidden for the sake of image. How that wounded my heart!

This taught me that God does not care about my pain and suffering, but cares very much that I look right and act religious. And it affirmed the belief that God loves other people more than He loves me. How desperately I wanted His love and acceptance.

I spent years trying to earn His favour before I finally fell to my knees and begged Him to remove every lying voice, and show me who He really is. I wept for days, as I read the stories of Jesus and the church in rest of the New Testament, as though I was reading them for the first time. And then I felt secure.

I knew other preachers who did not do what you did, and I thank God for their kinder examples. But you had the greater influence, and somehow I couldn’t see past the confusion you brought into my life, to see that Jesus is more like them…

So I forgive you. I forgive you for turning a blind eye to the abuse I suffered. I forgive you for judging me harshly, while protecting sin in your own family and household. I forgive you for spiritual rape… by using God’s name for personal agenda, and telling me that what you do is God-blessed.

And each time I remember what you did, I will choose to forgive you, again, and again, and again.

I pray that you will repent, find mercy and get to know intimately the true God… the God of love, justice and mercy.

Sincerely,
~ one broken teen ~

© Trudy Metzger

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Letter to A Perpetrator

Dear Perpetrator,

You probably don’t remember me… and if you do, you probably try to forget. But I remember you, as though it was yesterday…

This is not an easy letter for me to write to you. I’ve wanted to write it for many years, but never had the courage.

You see, I was a happy-go-lucky little girl… carefree, pure, sweet, innocent, playful and free. Until…

Before we met, I used to feel like a little princess. Special. My mind was filled with dreams of growing up, of being a mommy one day, and having a daddy for my children. I would be the best mommy in the world, and he would be the best daddy in the world, and together we would have a happy family. My little world was filled with wonder, light and hope. Until…

But after you ‘played’ with me, and after you showed me things I didn’t want to know so young, at least not in that way, I stopped dreaming. My world became dark. My hopes shattered and fear took their place. All I could think about was what you did. You said it wouldn’t hurt. But it did. You said it would feel good….

It didn’t hurt then, but it has never stopped hurting since. My heart has never stopped hurting….

You have probably long pushed away the memories of what you did. I can only assume that, because you’ve never come back to say you are sorry. But I have not forgotten, and I never will. I used to be angry when I remembered. Now it just makes me sad, because I wonder who you have become, how many other children you hurt. And I wonder if they, like me, lost themselves in that pain.

I grew up. It was hard. I struggled with suicidal thoughts and tendencies. I felt hopeless. Ugly. Dirty. Broken. Used. I let more people use me. I thought it was all I was worth. That it was all I deserved. I became desperate. And in my desperation, I wanted to die and make the pain stop. But I kept on fighting.

Eventually I found the real Jesus. He heals people like me, and tells us who we really are. That we are not the sum total of what others have done to us, or the wrong choices we have made. He reminded me that I really am a princess, the daughter of a King, the daughter of His Abba Father. And there I found myself again. But the struggles kept on, the pain stayed a long while.

I got married and became a mommy. I married a man who is now the daddy of our children. We have a family. We love each other, and we love our children. I am the best mommy I can be. But I have struggled with depression, anxiety and anger… and sometimes I even felt that it would be better for my family if I was dead, better for my children to have a new mommy, one who was not as messed up as I was. Those were hard years. I loved them so much, but had nothing to give. I was still so lost.

And my husband is the best man I have ever known. Not only because he is a good daddy to our children, but because he is good to me. That part of my dream came true. But instead of the carefree love I imagined in my childhood dreams, before I even understood love, sex and marriage, it’s been a hard and painful battle. He has held me patiently, and reassured me, when I remembered what you did, and when I was afraid to love him, because of that memory. He comforts me when I cry. He prays for me when I have nightmares about you. And he keeps on loving me even when I get depressed.

So my dreams have come true, but with a thread of pain and suffering.

I think about my story, and I see how hard I fought, how much I have grieved, and I wonder again who you have become. Do you still hurt little children? Have you ever told anyone what you did? Do you still carry that secret? Do you tell yourself that I, a little child, asked for it? Do you console yourself with that lie? Do you hope I forgot? Do you live in denial, so you don’t have to remember me? Or has it wrecked your very soul?

And then I wonder if you’ve ever talked to Jesus about it? Have you told Him what you did to me? Have you asked Him to forgive you? Have you wept, and begged, and pleaded on my behalf, and any other victims you have, praying that the crime you committed against me would not destroy my life? That He would find me, heal me and make me whole again? That He would take that horrific act and redeem it, and launch me into a full life?

When I think of you, I feel sad. I feel sad because it must be a terrible burden to carry. Sometimes tears spill out when I remember you, and I pray for you. I pray that you will be sorry, and I ask God to forgive you. I have forgiven you. It took a long time to feel that I had forgiven you, even after I had chosen forgiveness for many years.

If I would see you, I would say this one thing to you, “I forgive you because of what Jesus has done in me.” But you are still accountable to Him, and I pray you will see that, and find His grace and forgiveness.

So I wrote this letter because I want you to know how much it hurt, how much damage it did, so that you won’t do it again. I want you to know that I remember. And I pray for any other child you have hurt, that they will know the love and healing touch of Jesus. And most of all I want you to know that there is hope. That you don’t have to stay in bondage to the lies, to the addictions. Because Jesus died for you too. That’s probably hard for you to believe, but if I, a child whom you hurt, can tell you this, how much more can God who is holy and just? Not to mention that He is your Creator, your Saviour. It is His authority by which I speak these words. I know they are for you.

If you’ve never told anyone what you did, tell someone. Don’t carry that memory in shame and silence, because that gives it power.

And if you don’t have anyone to tell, you can tell me. I will listen. I will cry. My heart will break. And that’s okay. Because when you’re done talking, I will tell you that I forgive you. And then I will tell you to give your heart to Jesus, and all that yucky stuff with it, and let it go. Because He loves you.

Still praying for you…

Sincerely,
~ one broken little girl ~

© Trudy Metzger

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This Battle We Fight

I expected a hard battle against sexual abuse in Christian cultures, when I set out, so I will not be discouraged. And I am  not overwhelmed or shocked. I knew it was prevalent, and the stories would be extreme. And I am not going to quit. I will face hell and high water, if that is what it takes, to help one little girl or boy, to prevent, if possible, that victimization.

That, in a way, is the easy part of fighting against abuse and violence of any kind. Advocating, standing in the gap, being vulnerable and speaking out are all good things. And they hopefully make a difference. But the other battle, the one that is so hard to fight, goes on in the minds of both victims and those fighting on their behalf. Both battles are worth fighting, and important to fight, but the visible one is definitely the easiest!

When someone tells me I’m on a witch hunt, that they don’t believe the problem is as bad as I make it sound, it makes me stop and reconsider. And in that reconsidering there are times I’d as soon turn my back as keep going. It’s not that I doubt my stand, but it’s a lonely road.

I am tempted to be self preserving and, if but for a fleeting moment, to think, “I’m healed. I did the hard work of facing it. I found hope. Can’t others do the same? Is it really something I need to ‘fight’ for? Whether it is 5% of the church population, or 70%… does it really matter? Can’t each person fight for him or herself? Why should I do it?”

The temptation to turn a blind eye, to pretend that it’s not my problem, has been a real temptation at times, though more so in the past. The cost to keep going has been higher than I ever imagined it to be…

But when I stop and think about the victims, those whom I most interact with, and for whom I am fighting, I know retreating into silence is not an option. Victims, unless they have a vested interest in silence, typically encourage me to keep speaking and to break the silence, to be their voice because they are afraid. And the reward for helping them far outweighs the costs I mentioned earlier. Still, weighing those costs is part of the battle I fight.

But those with a vested interest in silence will attempt to discourage me, creating a whole new battle. You can use your imagination as to what that vested interest in silence might be. There are a few reasons… One is to protect their own secret of victimizing another person, or protecting a perpetrator close to them, or protecting a religious culture and image–especially as leaders within that culture who want power and image of truth.

But I am hearing ‘happy murmurings’ that tell me the winds of change are blowing… there are some leaders with integrity whose eyes are being opened. I cannot tell you the hope this brings me! When I first heard a positive whisper, in the last several days, the tears started. It was almost as if I was a teenager again, back in the culture, and my story was being heard. In reality I don’t think it had anything to do with my story, but it still touched a tender spot. A deep wound that I thought was healed.

While I write from the perspective of the Mennonite church, because that was my life growing up, I am very aware that sexual abuse is not only a problem in Mennonite and closed culture groups. It is a universal, human being problem. And, while closed cultures are the safest place for perpetrators to hide, thereby increasing the epidemic of abuse, it is not only in Mennonite ‘closed cultures’, or even religious closed cultures. It is prevalent in any organization, institution or group that is bound, bent and determined to cover up abuse. And it’s usually for the sake of image and reputation. Whether it’s Penn State, the Catholic Church, the Mennonite church, the Anglican church and abuse of Aboriginals,  or any other group, the reasons for covering up are similar. Image. Pride. Arrogance.

In its prevalence, I am always amazed, when I meet with victims of abuse, to discover how many think they are the only ones in their family to be victimized. The feeling of ‘aloneness’ and ‘there’s something wrong with me’, is a powerful mind battle that the enemy uses. I believed for years that I was the only one in my family, the only one in my church. Until I talked. That’s when the web was exposed, little by little, one victim at a time.

So, when a victim insists they are alone, I ask questions like, Do you ever talk about it? Does your family or church know you were abused? Have you ever asked any of them?

I quickly discover, in most cases, that it has never been discussed with peers, and the silence of others is perceived as the absence of problems. They may have gone to leaders or parents, but it was all quickly ‘taken care of’ and the victim either told or encouraged not to bring it up, but to forgive and move on.

I have had the honour and privilege of helping to unravel, at least partially, the lies and misconceptions of, “I am the only one,” or, “it’s only my family”.  And when they discover the truth that there are many others, it is both a relief in the sense that the individual no longer feels isolated, and daunting in that it is no longer manageable. Manageable in the sense of feeling that ‘I am the only one, I’ll survive. No one will ever need to know, and it ends with me…’

When the battle of isolation is done, a new battle begins. If you speak, people will judge you. They will accuse you of wanting attention. (I didn’t get this attack, that I know of, but hear it from other victims.) There will be pastors (or preachers) and other leaders, along with those who have a vested interest in silence for other reason, who will judge you. Don’t let that stop you from breaking the silence.

If there’s one thing the devil knows, it’s the power of silence, because in silence we believe lies and that gives him access to other areas of our lives. He uses those lies in subtle ways to manipulate and control how we see life, how we see others, how we see ourselves. If he can prevent us from seeing what we are capable of, through the power of Christ, then we are no threat to his work and his kingdom.

But, if once we get a glimpse of the power of Christ in us, and the things He will do through us, then we become and unstoppable force. That is a threat to the enemy’s kingdom, and the kingdoms humans build for themselves. And it advances the kingdom of God.

So I fight. I fight the battle against evil publicly by speaking, writing, and influencing whatever change I can. And I fight the battle in my mind, against the temptation to quit. Why should hell get free rent in church without a bit of resistance?

But most of all I fight the battle privately, between me and God, and alongside the victims, encouraging them, and offering a listening ear and a heart that cares. Because ultimately, the greatest battle takes place in the mind and spirit of the victim, long after the perpetrator has forgotten, or blocked the memory that he or she ever did anything.

The battle the preachers who serve image and religion fight is a battle in the mind and spirit, between the will of God and the will of the flesh. To protect the innocent, or to sacrifice them on the altars of Molech, in order to protect pride and image? To respect the laws of the land when it comes to crimes against children, or to cover up and pretend it isn’t that damaging?

Regardless of our role in the issue, the reality is that it is a spiritual battle, and we either fight, or we surrender to evil. There are only two options.

Ephesians 6:12
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

“Spiritual wickedness in high places…” We fight, not against people determined to maintain silence, but against the powers of darkness… The father of all lies, who has the deepest interest in that silence.

So I put on my armour, pick up my sword and shield and march into battle, knowing with confidence who has my back. And never losing my identity as a woman of God.


(c) Can Stock Photo

© Trudy Metzger

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Dirty Laundry that Stinks to High Heaven: Sexual Abuse in Christian Cultures (Part 2 of 2)

There is a cost associated with hiding corruption, or turning our heads the other way, and plugging our ears, so that we can say, We did not see, did not know. Not the least of the cost is the ongoing sacrifice of our children on the altars of Molech.

And, having done so, we are shocked, confused and horrified when our children abandon God. We fall on our knees and cry out, heartbroken, that they would leave their faith–not to be mistaken with leaving their cultural upbringing–and worship other gods.

Many turn from the living God because we have corporately misrepresented Him in leaving them willingly vulnerable by not exposing sin and protecting them. We have hidden the evil done against them, while judging harshly their failures, regardless of their efforts. Failures that are often born out of struggles resulting from the very sins committed against them. And until we acknowledge that we have sinned against them in this, our prayers will continue to echo from the walls of our homes and our churches, empty and meaningless.

But if we repent, and cry out to God for forgiveness for our sins, and if we stop hiding behind cloaks of righteousness that have holes exposing our own evil, then, the God of heaven will hear our prayers for our children and our nation. Only then will we see revival of spirit and soul.

2 Chronicles 7:14

New King James Version (NKJV)

14 if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

I urge us to repent and stop stuffing our filthy laundry in a corner, in pretence that it does not exist. It stinks to high heaven, creating a stench before the very presence of God.

Isaiah 65:1-9

New Living Translation (NLT)

Judgment and Final Salvation

65 The Lord says,

“I was ready to respond, but no one asked for help.
I was ready to be found, but no one was looking for me.
I said, ‘Here I am, here I am!’
to a nation that did not call on my name.[a]
All day long I opened my arms to a rebellious people.[b]
But they follow their own evil paths
and their own crooked schemes.
All day long they insult me to my face
by worshiping idols (of greed, religion, image, lust and pride) in their sacred gardens.
They burn incense on pagan altars.
(…)
Yet they say to each other,
‘Don’t come too close or you will defile me!
I am holier than you!’
These people are a stench in my nostrils,
an acrid smell that never goes away.

“Look, my decree is written out[c] in front of me:
I will not stand silent;
I will repay them in full!
Yes, I will repay them—
7 both for their own sins
and for those of their ancestors,”
says the Lord.
“For they also burned incense on the mountains
and insulted me on the hills.
I will pay them back in full!

But I will not destroy them all,”
says the Lord.
“For just as good grapes are found among a cluster of bad ones
(and someone will say, ‘Don’t throw them all away—
some of those grapes are good!’),
so I will not destroy all Israel.
For I still have true servants there.
I will preserve a remnant of the people of Israel[d]
and of Judah to possess my land.
Those I choose will inherit it,
and my servants will live there.

On behalf of ourselves, our fathers and mothers, and the generations past, we must repent. And for the sake of the generations to come, we must stand and break the silence of corruption, and pray that God will have mercy on us. Not only on those who have committed these heinous acts, but on us for our silence, and not fighting to the death for the little children. For this evil, I pray that God will have mercy.

The next generation is already paying the price with the prevalence of sexual immorality, in the guise of abstinence, and abortions, and homosexuality, and more sexual abuse. All this, and more, is happening right under the noses of leaders who chose to look the other way. That blindness has empowered evil. And, were they to discover it, the sword would fall swiftly.

But that is not the biblical response of leaders. A true leader does not judge harshly and quickly the sins of those he or she leads, while shouting, “You have sinned!” A true leader falls to his knees and asks God, “Where have I sinned that your people are doing this under my leadership?”

We see in Ezra 9, when sin is revealed in the congregation, how he responds by taking personal ownership, as though he was the one who committed the sins. Only after personal repentance does he call for public, corporate accountability for those sins. Oh how such leadership would change the Body of Christ!

Ezra 9:3-8

King James Version (KJV–with edits)

And when I heard this thing, I rent my garment and my mantle, and plucked off the hair of my head and of my beard, and sat down astonied.

Then were assembled unto me every one that trembled at the words of the God of Israel, because of the transgression of those that had been carried away; and I sat astonied until the evening sacrifice.

And at the evening sacrifice I arose up from my heaviness; and having rent my garment and my mantle, I fell upon my knees, and spread out my hands unto the Lord my God,

And said, O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to you, my God: for our iniquities are increased over our head, and our trespass is grown up unto the heavens.

Since the days of our fathers have we been in a great trespass unto this day; and for our iniquities have we… been delivered into … confusion of face, as it is this day.

And now for a little space grace has been showed from the Lord our God, to leave us a remnant to escape, and to give us a nail in his holy place, that our God may lighten our eyes, and give us a little reviving in our bondage.

© Trudy Metzger

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Dirty Laundry that Stinks to High Heaven: Sexual Abuse in Christian Cultures (Part 1 of 2)

What inspired me to share the information in yesterday’s blog, Age of Consent & Sexual Assault, and the links I will provide over the next several posts, is several sexual abuse cases that took place in my cultural background.

Two in particular have my attention. One is more recent, the other a bit longer ago, but less than fifteen years ago. They appear to be linked through generational chains. I have not pursued information on this case (yet), nor have I spoken to any of the victims directly… what I know has recently come to me.

It is very likely that some of my readers will recognize the story, and if you find yourself feeling responsible to report the case, because you know too much…. Well, follow your conscience…

The case most influencing me is that of a 14-year-old having sexual relations with an adult Mennonite teacher, who also molested other children. (Of this type of scenario, I have been made aware of several separate cases, in Ontario, and in USA. I will write here only based on Canadian laws, as I am not familiar with USA laws, or state laws.)

The problem here was that, since the relationship with the teen was consensual, so the church treated it as fornication and a mutual consent affair. This allowed them, whether intentionally or unintentionally, to quickly treat it as sin for both parties, and apply church laws to ‘take care of it’. (To my knowledge the teacher who abused the children and engaged in inappropriate sexual relations with the student has not been reported or brought to legal justice That is a matter I still need to confirm. Those who have spoken with me about it, did not know for certain. But that is not really the point I am trying to make, it is about putting responsibility on the student, when the teacher has the power.)

Under no circumstances is it appropriate to put this on a 14-yr-old child, nor would it stand up in court. It would not stand in defense of the teacher, who is in a position of authority and would be held accountable even if it was an older student, because it is an abuse of power. Nor would the law accept that church leaders and others in positions of authority, who were aware of the inappropriate sexual relations, are innocent.

I am still in the process of determining my own moral/legal obligations, having recently been made aware of these details. When I know what I am required to do, I will do it. And in the event that it has already been reported and dealt with, my understanding is that I am not required to do anything further. However, because of the situation with the teen, there may still be a legal obligation on my part, and, again, I will do it if that is the case.

It is a tragedy that numerous similar scenarios are coming to light, and, even with multiple victims, it appears as though it has been quietly swept under the carpet of the church. It is important, and it cannot be stressed enough, that a perpetrator of sexual abuse be reported. To apply church discipline is a matter completely separate from the law, and in no way overrides the laws of our land, especially when it comes to protecting innocent children.

There are questions surrounding consequences for children who abuse children. According to the information I posted yesterday, children, ages 13 and under, are not charged unless they are in a position of authority and trust. My understanding is that if they are 12 or 13, they still need to be reported, so that they can get appropriate help, and it is just common sense to find help for all children who display obsession with sexualized behaviour.

In the case of 14 to 17 yr olds, they are typically charged as juveniles, and those 18 and over are charged and tried as adults.

Religious leaders, principals, school teachers, Sunday school teachers, and all those in a position of authority and trust, can be held to account for not reporting. However, all adults are required to report.

In a recent case (USA) a spouse who knew of abuse was also arrested, and in another case a priest was charged for knowingly covering abuse. More and more, I anticipate seeing this type of consequence for silence and turning a blind eye.

In Australia, Prime Minister Julia Gillard had recommended a Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse in all institutions, to determine how much cover up is happening. This includes, but is not limited to churches. If this were to happen in Canada, I am confident that what would come to light in the church would shock the world, and our communities, and it would cost the church. (Though it might also do some unexpected house cleaning.) I am saddened that this is the case.

I pray that we do some serious house cleaning before it comes to this. It would result in serious, and justified, attacks on Christianity.  And, undoubtedly, we would cry ‘Persecution’, but it would not be that at all.

Persecution is when we suffer for the sake of Christ, not for the sake of evil, corruption and iniquity hidden in the walls of the church, while declaring our own righteousness. That kind of attack is the result of our own godlessness.

1 Peter 3:13-18

New King James Version (NKJV)

Suffering for Right and Wrong

13 And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.”[a] 15 But sanctify the Lord God[b] in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; 16 having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. 17 For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.

Christ’s Suffering and Ours

18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us[c] to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit,

God forbid that we would continue to hide our sin and crimes, while judging the world for their ungodliness, and then pretending to suffer for the name of Christ when they judge our lies and abominations. That is blasphemous, at best.

If we continue to do this, we will stand in judgement for such pretences, I believe, far more than the ungodly who have never known Christ. We have known Him, and willingly defiled His name and His church–the body of Christ–to protect our pride.

And to those leaders who declare, “I didn’t know”, my question is, “Why? Why did you not know? What door are you afraid to open, for fear of the consequences?”

Ask God to show you the true state of things, and then be prepared to act on that, both biblically, and according to the laws of our land. God isn’t much for turning a blind eye, so He will show you if you are willing to know.

I could name numerous leaders who have been approached by victims, who have been told how bad it is, but have not gotten their hands bloody to ‘know’ the truth. They have chosen not to believe, and each time they hear it again, they do the same thing.

But God is calling some, including some who have done this in the past, to rise up, hear hearts, face the truth and be the channels for God’s grace and forgiveness to flow out to His people. It is a call to all Christian leaders who will hear and respond, not only those in my cultural background, but every denomination.

God is not pleased with what has been done. He is giving us this opportunity, as believers, to deal with our sins appropriately and according  to the Bible and the laws of the land. (None of the laws of the land, regarding Child Sexual Abuse, violate our biblical call to repentance and God’s justice, therefore we are bound biblically, to live in submission to those laws.)

If we do not obey those laws and repent, God will expose our sins and the cost will be far greater than anything we can imagine.

We can pretend that we are ever so holy, that we have it together and our life is a picture of true holiness, but as long as we hide sin in our churches, and refuse to protect our children, we are nothing more than a spiritual slum…

(c) Can Stock Photo

…To Be Continued…

© Trudy Metzger

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Age of Consent and Sexual Assault

Rather than post one of my regular blogs, I am posting information on the age of consent. I have run into this numerous times lately in discussion with friends in my cultural background, where situations were handled inappropriately. Upon discovering this lack of awareness, I felt it might be helpful for my readers, to determine how these situations should be handled within the confines of the law.

The link for the following information is http://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/dept-min/clp/faq.html. In cases where teenagers are being sexually abused by school teachers, or others in a position of authority or trust, it is sexual assault. These cases need to be reported even if they appear to be mutual consent. It is critical to be aware of the legal implications of not reporting such activity. I will post on this in the upcoming posts.

Age of Consent to Sexual Activity

Frequently Asked Questions

What does the “age of consent” or “age of protection” mean?

The age of consent, also known as the “age of protection”, refers to the age at which a young person can legally consent to sexual activity. All sexual activity without consent, regardless of age, is a criminal offence.

To what kind of sexual activity does this apply?

The age of consent laws apply to all forms of sexual activity, ranging from sexual touching (e.g., kissing) to sexual intercourse.

What is Canada’s age of consent?

The age of consent for sexual activity is 16 years. It was raised from 14 years on May 1, 2008 by the Tackling Violent Crime Act.

However, the age of consent is 18 years where the sexual activity “exploits” the young person — when it involves prostitution, pornography or occurs in a relationship of authority, trust or dependency (e.g., with a teacher, coach or babysitter). Sexual activity can also be considered exploitative based on the nature and circumstances of the relationship, e.g., the young person’s age, the age difference between the young person and their partner, how the relationship developed (quickly, secretly, or over the Internet) and how the partner may have controlled or influenced the young person.

Are there any exceptions to this?

The Criminal Code provides “close in age” or “peer group” exceptions.

For example, a 14 or 15 year old can consent to sexual activity with a partner as long as the partner is less than five years older and there is no relationship of trust, authority or dependency or any other exploitation of the young person. This means that if the partner is 5 years or older than the 14 or 15 year old, any sexual activity will be considered a criminal offence unless it occurs after they are married to each other (in accordance with the “solemnization” of marriage requirements that are established in each province and territory, governing how and when a marriage can be performed, including the minimum age at which someone may marry).

There is also a “close-in-age” exception for 12 and 13 year olds: a 12 or 13 year old can consent to sexual activity with another young person who is less than two years olderand with whom there is no relationship of trust, authority or dependency or other exploitation of the young person.

Are 16 and 17 year olds also protected against sexual exploitation?

The Criminal Code protects 16 and 17 year olds against sexual exploitation, where the sexual activity occurs within a relationship of trust, authority, dependency or where there is other exploitation. Whether a relationship is considered to be exploiting the 16 or 17 year old will depend upon the nature and circumstances of the relationship, e.g., the age of the young person, the age difference between the young person and their partner, how the relationship developed and how the partner may have controlled or influenced the young person. As well, 16 and 17 year olds cannot consent to sexual activity that involves prostitution or pornography.

What are the actual Criminal Code offences against child sexual abuse and exploitation?

The Criminal Code protects all Canadians, including children, against sexual abuse and exploitation. For example, the Criminal Code contains offences that protect everyone against all forms of sexual assault (section 271); sexual assault with a weapon, threats to a third party or causing bodily harm (section 272); and aggravated sexual assault (section 273), voyeurism (section 162), obscenity (section 163) and trafficking in persons (section 279.01).

Children are also protected by child-specific offences in the Criminal Code. These offences include the following:

  • Sexual Interference (section 151) – no one can touch any part of the body of a child under the age of 16 for a sexual purpose. The penalty for this offence is a mandatory minimum period of imprisonment of up to a maximum of 10 years;
  • Invitation to Sexual Touching (section 152) – no one can invite a child under the age of 16 to touch himself/herself or them for a sexual purpose. The penalty for this offence is a mandatory minimum period of imprisonment of up to a maximum of 10 years;
  • Sexual Exploitation (section 153) – no one in a position of trust or authority over a 16 or 17 year old (for example, a teacher, religious leader, baby-sitter or doctor) or upon whom the young person is dependent, can touch any part of the body of the young person for a sexual purpose or invite that young person to touch himself/herself or them for a sexual purpose. The penalty for this offence is a mandatory minimum period of imprisonment of up to a maximum of 10 years;
  • Incest (section 155) – no one may have sexual intercourse with their parent, child, brother, sister, grandparent or grandchild. The penalty for this offence is a maximum of 14 years imprisonment;
  • Child Pornography (section 163.1) – no one may make, distribute, transmit, make available, access, sell, advertise, export/import or possess child pornography. Child pornography is broadly defined and includes materials that show someone engaged in explicit sexual activity who is, or seems to be, under the age of 18 years; or show a young person’s sexual organ or anal region for a sexual purpose. Child pornography also includes written and audio material that encourages others to commit a sexual offence against a child, or is primarily a description of unlawful sexual activity with a child that is intended for a sexual purpose. The penalties for these offences are mandatory minimum periods of imprisonment and vary up to a maximum of either 5 or 10 years;
  • Luring a Child (section 172.1) – no person may use a computer system, such as the Internet, to communicate with a young person for the purpose of facilitating the commission of a sexual or abduction offence against that young person. This offence is sometimes called “Internet luring”. The penalty for this offence is a maximum of 10 years imprisonment;
  • Exposure (subsection 173(2)) – no one may expose their genital organs for a sexual purpose to a young person under the age of 16 years. The penalty for this offence is a maximum of 6 months imprisonment;
  • Procuring (sections 170, 171, 212(2), 212(2.1) and 212(4) – it is against the law for parents and guardians to procure their child under the age of 18 years to engage in illegal sexual activity. It is also against the law for anyone to offer or obtain the sexual services of a young person under the age of 18 years (i.e., prostitution). The penalties for these offences are mandatory minimum periods of imprisonment and vary up to a maximum of 14 years imprisonment;
  • Bestiality (section 160) – it is against the law for anyone to engage in sexual activity with an animal, including making a child do this or doing this in front of a child. The penalties for these offences vary up to a maximum of 10 years imprisonment; and,
  • Child Sex Tourism (subsections 7(4.1) – 7(4.3) – it is against the law for a Canadian to travel outside of Canada and engage in any sexual activity with a young person that is against the law in Canada. If the Canadian is not found guilty of committing such a sexual offence in the country where it occurred, the Canadian could be convicted in Canada and would face the same penalty as if that offence had occurred in Canada.

In addition to these criminal laws against child sexual abuse and exploitation, each province and territory has its own laws to protect children against abuse, exploitation and neglect.

Taken from http://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/dept-min/clp/faq.html.

 

© Trudy Metzger

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