Speaking in a general way, and this is how I have always spoken, abuse of various kinds, domestic, marital, and the abuse of children, is not a cross we must bear. It is a sin and usually a crime. When we allow others to persist in perpetrating it we are not acting for their good, in their own repentance and salvation. We are certainly not acting for the care and salvation of those being abused.
In a general manner, as much as in particular instances, of course, we must preach unceasingly that the abuse of others has no place in the Christian life at all. No one has the right under any circumstances to use violence against others. Nor to manipulate them through intimidation and humiliation. Nor to treat them as the object of their own sinful desires.
We are all weak and sinful, and we should not imagine that the sins of others are worse than our own. We need not judge others in the place of that judgment which belongs to God. But we have an absolute duty and responsibility to ensure that our Orthodox communities and congregations are places of salvation and healing, and we can and most certainly must judge some behaviours as entirely inconsistent with the nature of the Body of Christ, his own Church, his Bride, which is called to present herself spotless before Christ.
They are not only inconsistent, and to be avoided, but destructive of the relationships of love which God calls us to, whether in the home, or in the Church, and so to be dealt with most firmly wherever they take place.
Abuse of all kinds is never a private and secret matter, though the perpetrators will try to insist their abuse is hidden. It affects us all, as the Body of Christ, and it wounds us all, in the particular persons who are most grievously harmed. And so we must insist that it is the responsibility of us all to put in place those necessary safeguards, those policies and procedures, and the spiritual framework of preaching and instruction, which opposes such abuse and does not allow it to be normalised, whatever form it takes.
The Church must stand for the truth that each person, whatever their age, gender, or status, is of absolute and eternal value and worth. When any one of those who bear the image of God is abused, it is all of us who are abused, and it is Christ himself who is abused. We cannot fail to stand together with those who suffer in this way. It is not their cross, and a burden they must bear alone, but it is one that we must learn to bear together, and to act so that it cannot take place, so that we become that community of divine life and love in which every person finds healing and salvation in the presence of Christ.
By: Father Peter Farrington | A priest of St Mary and Saint Cyril Coptic Orthodox Church in Liverpool. United Kingdom ~ Diocese of the Midlands.
Delivered to you by COPTICNN™ | Coptic News Network on 2020-07-17 from Liverpool, England
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