The Sins of Omission Cut Deep

Years ago my family left the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC) not only because of the existence of spiritual abuse, bullying, and racism, but because of what little those in power did to address those matters in their pews and in their pulpits.

The sins of commission were painful; the sins of omission and silent complicity were unbearable.

There are good saints still in the denomination, just like in any denomination. But, when it became clear that the systems and structures and people holding sway were never going to do anything substantive about these matters, it was time for us to shake the dust off from our feet.

Pastors we respected and who had been huge influences in our walk with Jesus became thorns in our sides and further assistants to abuse and racism. Seminary professors I looked up to did nothing to help us out when we asked them to. Friends and acquaintances showed their true colors as fair-weather friends, and they quickly sided with the system. Leaders up at the General Assembly/denominational level wrote dismissive responses about my questions about the denomination’s progress toward diversity.

I still remember when a well-respected regional missionary (e.g. a church planter within the U.S.) chewed me out over the phone, spoke condescendingly, and brought up gossip and slander to silence me when I was trying to do due diligence in choosing a pastor for our then church. Worse still, his spiritually abusive conduct was known by many others in the denomination that I spoke to, and yet, all I got from them was “But he’s done so much for the kingdom.” Again, the abuse itself was not the tipping point — it was the betrayal and compromise of others who knew about the abuse that had been going on for years yet thought that my family was worth the cost of keeping this man’s ministry afloat for a few more years for the good of the denomination.

Perhaps you have experienced something similar and know the pain of the silence of others, the betrayal of friends, and the compromise and complicity of those who had influence to do something and to stand with you and defend you. You aren’t alone.

I pray that Reformed denominations and Christians realize and reckon with the fact that good doctrine alone doesn’t immunize you from abuse and racism. You need to do more than require theological acumen as a standard of Christian maturity. You must make proactive movements toward accountability and dealing with the grievous sin in your midst and lamenting the lives and relationships destroyed by wolves among you.

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