Imagine a scenario where a man caught two different men flirting with his wife in inappropriate ways. He was so bothered by this that he began to devise a way to publicly expose and shame all men who cross boundaries in such a blatant way.
What he seemed to have no way of knowing was that this public exposure also fell on the shoulders of thousands of others who simply were trying to heal from the abuse they had experienced at the hands of predatory abusers.
Between this man’s broad platform, and his lack of real understanding he accused the wounded and the broken of somehow betraying a system that had actually betrayed them. He mistook the sheer numbers of people fleeing from this abuse as an organized movement, and, as is so common in abuse (but strangely), he blamed the victims and defended the abusers.
If you see an epidemic don’t get angry at those who are symptomatic, get angry at the source of the infection. To be so “brazen” against what he sees as a movement, is the equivalent of going to the hospital and shaming the sick without ever seeking to understand the biology of the infection.
Sadly, to many who stand on platforms, they have a radically inaccurate picture of the current epidemic of deconstruction. Yes, I agree it is an epidemic, but deconstruction is the symptom, not the disease. The disease is abuse and those who don’t understand this may inadvertently join the side of the abuser.
Mr. Cooper says he “doesn’t want to argue” about “terms” but then goes on to spend paragraphs trying to convince the reader that his definition is the right one. This, by the way is the position of the careless abusive leader. “I have the platform and when I say I don’t want to argue, what I mean is I don’t want you to disagree with me.”
What if the wounded all found a shelter with a name on it and you disagreed with the name of the shelter? From your platform you may believe you have formed a persuasive argument, but to the sick huddling under that shelter you have just told them they should go back into the raging fire that burned them in the first place.
I do not have a large platform, but I minister to victims of abuse including spiritual abuse. Mr. Cooper says that every single person he knows who has left the faith began with deconstruction. But what preceded the deconstruction John? Have you looked behind that curtain?
As small as my platform is I work with literally thousands who are in some stage of deconstruction. Before they moved into deconstruction they desperately tried to reconcile relationships with abusive leaders and organizations. They are not rebellious. They are not following some deceiving leader. They are bleeding out and just wondering if they are going to be able to breathe tomorrow. They are trying to know God for themselves and escape the tyranny of leaders who claim to understand but actually do harm.
John, if you want to use your platform to protect the church don’t be brazenly opposed to those who are bleeding. Go find those who shot them.
Were you brazenly opposing the Catholic church when the child abuse scandals were being exposed on a mass scale? Have you brazenly stood for the sexual abuse victims in the SBC as the systematic failure of this system is being exposed? Have you brazenly stood against Ravi Zacharias? Against Bill Hybels? Against other types of abusers who have been publicly outed in epidemic number. The numbers are far greater than most realize.
I beg not only of you Mr. Cooper, but of the leaders who seem so frightened or angry about this epidemic, please, please, please stop railing against the wounded. Ask the question “why?” Ask those who are bleeding and then listen to them. Don’t respond with the naïve “if you left because you were hurt by the church you were worshipping the wrong thing”
Victims of abuse are caught in an escalated version of the double bind that snares every abuse victim. If you stay people say you were wrong for staying. If you leave, you are accused of being wrong for doing so. Mr. Cooper, your essay is simply a case of the latter.
Every single person I know who claims to be deconstructing was either abused by a church or experienced a church supporting their abuser while claiming God wanted them to stay in abusive circumstances. I am brazenly opposed to this. But I stand against the abuse, not against the victims.
Deconstruction is a symptom. If you want to really let your brazen-ness make a difference change your target. You are hurting victims and protecting abusers.