Saturday, June 23, 2012

Forgiveness in the Abstract is Always Easier

That's what I have to say to those who want to start sermonizing about forgiving Jerry Sandusky.  I have no intention of forgiving Jerry Sandusky.  I have no right to forgive him, he has not wronged me.  I don't even know the guy.  And I'm still having a hard time working on forgiving the guy on the ELCA Clergy facebook group who said something that annoyed me so I'm not about to lecture sex abuse victims about forgiving their abusers.  

Now I'm not too keen on all the spewing and scapegoating about "that monster".  I find the so called "jokes" and the wishing of prison rape on Jerry Sandusky abhorrent.  Rape is not a joke.  It is not okay.  Those jokes are particularly upsetting if you realize most victims of sexual abuse in prisons are not, contrary to conventional wisdom, child molesters, but youth who have been sentenced as adults and put in with the adult population in prisons.  And if you consider the likelihood that those youth were probably abused in some way as children before that, it is a particularly offensive "joke".

Jerry Sandusky like other high profile criminals has become our monster that we can put in a cage and excuse ourselves of the hard work of making systematic changes in the culture that allows child abuse to happen.  

And he's also the poster boy for people who have never been sexually abused to lift up and talk about how much God loves him to show everyone how Christian they are and how brave they are to talk about loving Jerry Sandusky.  I call bullshit.  Show me a sexual abuse victim who has truly forgiven her abuser (not been shamed into it by her religious community like um, I don't know,  an isolated cult that also abuses puppies?  Never mind, I digress) and then I'll be impressed.  Show me a victim who has not forgiven his/her abuser and I will talk to them about God's forgiveness and healing for them even if they can't forgive. 

It's easy to forgive in the abstract.  It's much easier for someone who is not a sexual abuse survivor to talk about God's love for Sandusky than for someone who has personally hurt them.  So if you are a preacher and were planning to talk about forgiving Sandusky in the pulpit tomorrow, I know it's late but I'm going to suggest you reconsider.   Instead talk about how you were able to forgive someone who really really hurt you.  Or talk about how you are still working on that.  Or talk about the birth of John the Baptist.

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