When we talk about the Duggars, who is listening?

shutterstock_203091910Editor’s note: Shannon Dingle shares her reflections on how the life experiences people bring to worship influence how they may process comments from church leaders in the aftermath of Josh Duggar’s recent disclosures. 

Words matter. God’s word is clear about that. We’ve used the Duggar situation as a springboard for conversations on this blog about juvenile sex offenders and church safety. We’ve also been reading posts and blogs by other church leaders. I can’t help but wonder if we’re being mindful of who is listening to what we’re saying…

  • Victims are listening. Rates of childhood sexual abuse in this country are staggering, so you can be certain some are in your congregation/FB feed/Twitter followers/etc. If everything you post is defending an offender or chiding the media for being bullies, are you aware that your words might be telling these survivors that your church (and your friendship) isn’t a safe place for them? If you minimize the actions of one sexual offender, do you realize it could feel like you’re minimizing the actions of the person who violated her or him? Beyond that, as you write about how victims never fully heal and how this has stripped these girls of their purity/dignity/innocence/hope for future intimacy, do you realize some of your friends feel like you’re saying they are unredeemable if they were similarly abused (which would be hurtful alone, but is compounded by Christian messages of modesty and purity that sometimes make victims feel dirty, impure, or unlovable because of their abuser’s actions)?
  • Offenders are listening. Maybe it’s not sex offenders. Maybe it’s a woman who aborted her child and feels like her pro-life church would cast her out if they knew. Maybe it’s an addict who recently relapsed but is pretending all is well because he doesn’t trust his church with the mess of his life. Maybe it’s someone who cheated on their spouse and wants to come clean but isn’t sure forgiveness can exist. When someone else with a secret sin – albeit a different one – reads your posts, will it sound like redemption or treatment or love can exist for him or her?
  • Families in crisis are listening. If a mom, dad, or teen in your church feels like their family is falling apart because of a dark secret, will your words on this topic invite them to trust you or to stay silent? Will what you say or post on social media tell them you will love them in the midst of their messiness?
  • shutterstock_125481890Those outside the church are listening. Christians are known for preaching against sexual sin, so the world is watching to see if we apply the same standard to those within our flock as those outside it. Are we railing against sexual immorality outside of our churches but calling for forgiveness without consequence within them? Are our words supporting a poor view of our faith by those with whom we’d like to share the gospel? Are we presenting ourselves and our God as credible or fickle?

This isn’t about Josh Duggar. This is about you and me and our churches and the kids with whom we’re trusted. More than that, this is about our God who is both just and merciful, always a safe place for us to find refuge. Our churches can glorify Him by also being safe places for those in need. Let’s make sure the words we choose offer that promise to all those listening!

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shutterstock_185745920Click here to check out Key Ministry’s resource page on Trauma and Kids. We share links to all the posts in Dr. Grcevich’s blog series, links to educational resources from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, Dr. Karyn Purvis, and resources on PTSD developed by for Key Ministry by author and well-known disability ministry leader Jolene Philo. Please share with friends, colleagues and families who might benefit from the resources.

About Dr. G

Dr. Stephen Grcevich serves as President and Founder of Key Ministry, a non-profit organization providing free training, consultation, resources and support to help churches serve families of children with disabilities. Dr. Grcevich is a graduate of Northeastern Ohio Medical University (NEOMED), trained in General Psychiatry at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation and in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at University Hospitals of Cleveland/Case Western Reserve University. He is a faculty member in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at two medical schools, leads a group practice in suburban Cleveland (Family Center by the Falls), and continues to be involved in research evaluating the safety and effectiveness of medications prescribed to children for ADHD, anxiety and depression. He is a past recipient of the Exemplary Psychiatrist Award from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Dr. Grcevich was recently recognized by Sharecare as one of the top ten online influencers in children’s mental health. His blog for Key Ministry, www.church4everychild.org was ranked fourth among the top 100 children's ministry blogs in 2015 by Ministry to Children.
This entry was posted in Controversies, Key Ministry, Leadership, Shannon Dingle and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to When we talk about the Duggars, who is listening?

  1. Syndal Leigh says:

    Reblogged this on extraordinarily normal and commented:
    Yes. Yes. Yes.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Excellent! Thank you.

    Like

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