Monday, July 1, 2013

An open letter to pastors

I wrote this letter to my new pastor.  Really it could have probably been written to any pastor anywhere about the deafening silence coming from the pulpit about sexual abuse and how it has a huge voice that needs listening to in discussions of sexual purity.
July 1, 2013

Dear Pastor .......,

                I sat through service yesterday and listened to you talk on purity.  At one point the room went hazy and it became hard for me to see, so I knew it was something I probably really needed to hear.  But the more I heard the angrier I became.  Angry, because for every time I have ever heard a sermon preached on purity not a single pastor, not one, has ever touched on the sexual sins that adults commit on children and how those sins fundamentally change those children.  Not one!  And so I wanted to stand up and point my finger and shout out:  “Okay, OKAY!  I HEAR what you are saying, but what about us?!  What about those of us who were used as others sexual dishrags before we had any say in the matter, or when we were in that in between stage of child and teenager and we were so confused by what happened and our reaction to it that we felt somehow to blame for it?  What about those of us who grew up thinking that our purpose in life, or worth, was nothing more than that dishrag we were used as, maybe even made to be?  You tell us to be pure, to control ourselves, but you never once touch on how to do that when someone else’s actions fundamentally has changed everything about whom God created us to be. It changes who we are, how we see ourselves, how we see the world around us. Pastors love to speak on how sex is a gift.  I have never known it that way, so I understood when you spoke of the man who asked for his sexual drive to be taken away.  To me sex is more like a poison.  It isn’t intimate, it isn’t holy, and it certainly has never felt like a gift.  It is and always has been a thorn: a deep piercing, infection producing thorn, so how about we as a church discuss that sometime.  Because I know that I am probably not the only one.  I am guessing that just about 75% of any congregation at any given time has been or will be sexually abused, maybe even more.  So where are the sermons on that?  Where are the sermons telling the adults to stop using children as rags for their desires?  Where are the sermons talking to those raggedy children turned adults addressing their shame, their guilt, because they had desires from the time that they could remember that the church says is impure and wrong.  Where are the sermons that will stop making them feel shamed and guilty and start helping them figure out how to change those desires, because shame and guilt sure aren’t getting the job done.  Where are the sermons that discuss how to move sex from the shame/guilt/ poisonous thorn in my side box to the intimacy gift box, because boy I would sure like to know how to do that?!  Are pastors afraid to discuss this?  They aren’t afraid to talk about homosexuality, adultery, pornography, etc., but I am pretty certain that in a large number of these issues if you did a little digging that you would find that the root of many of these sexual sins would be childhood sexual abuse.  So yes, I am pointing my finger, yes I am angry, because why don’t we as a church, as a people address the root of the weed instead of just pulling at what we see coming out of the ground.” 

Please understand that I am not really angry with you.  I am angry with the situation, the silence, the deafening silence from the church when it comes to sexual abuse.  Do people think it doesn’t happen in churches?  That Christians are immune from this plague?  Are pastors afraid to offend the abusers or is it just nicer in general to pretend they aren’t there?  Because trust me they are there, in your congregations, sitting in your pews, invisible, but there and so are we… the sopping wet or crusted over stained and used dishrags. 


Karmen Madan


  1. Oh so good. I'm right there with you. I recently wrote a post comparing sex/holy communion. I'm sharing it here. I hope it helps.


    1. Thank you Melanie. Your post was a really good analogy. I just don't think it is realized, or maybe people don't want to realize how soul altering sexual abuse is and how rampant of a problem it is. Thank you for reading and for sharing.

  2. This is so well put. I agree with you completely. I pray it will get a much needed conversation going.


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