‘Completely defeated already’: The case against non-disclosure agreements in churches

cytonn-photography-GJao3ZTX9gU-unsplashThis may be controversial, but I’d like to briefly put forward a thesis:

No Christian church or ministry should ever ask a Christian to sign a non-disclosure agreement (or non-disparagement agreement, or any other similar document to the same effect).

You may read that and think, “Okay, but big deal. Which churches or ministries are doing that anyway? Aren’t you tilting at windmills? This sounds a bit like calling on churches not to insist that everyone must eat KFC for lunch on Thursdays.”

But, sadly, NDAs have become all too common in Christian circles.

The most common situation where an NDA may be used (to my knowledge) is where a Christian leader is being accused of ungodly behaviour—spiritual abuse, verbal abuse, bullying, dishonesty, manipulation, and the like—by someone within their church or ministry.

Continue reading

Gaslighting in a world of Submission – anonymous guest post

“Silence is part of what allows abuse to continue. I have found my voice, and I will use it to warn others and to remind them that this is not a normal Christian experience.” 

As some readers of this blog will know, my family and I experienced significant spiritual abuse many years ago in a church in Australia. It was a horrific experience, made all the more challenging by the struggle to make (some) people understand the reality of what we were enduring.

This anonymous article came to me some weeks ago from a woman who has her own first-hand experience of spiritual abuse. Having endured this abuse and largely come through, she now has a deep desire to support others—especially other women—who are experiencing this very real, very dangerous situation. Though the author has wisely asked to remain anonymous, she can be confidentially contacted here. Continue reading

Squaring off against Jed Bartlet: An alternate ending to The West Wing and homosexuality

In Season 2 of The West Wing, President Josiah Bartlet (one of my heroes) met a radio talk show host named Jenna Jacobs (a stand in for US talk show host Dr Laura Schlessinger). Inspired by point 9 in this hilarious and extremely well reasoned think piece, I started thinking about how an alternate ending might go…

The televised version (because even great ones like Aaron Sorkin and Josiah Bartlet find it easy to win one-sided debates against ignorant tight-a**es…)

Continue reading

‘Hate speech’ or ‘free speech’? A plea for open, respectful debate on campus

we-condem-free-speech
Photo credit: Sam Graham/Flickr (www.thecollegefix.com/post/25086/)

Having lived my whole life in safe, open, democratic societies, I’m profoundly grateful for democracy. I find myself in thorough agreement with the comment attributed to Winston Churchill: “Democracy is the worst form of government – except for all the others that have been tried.” But democracy doesn’t always get it right, nor is it guaranteed to produce the best and fairest outcome. After all, two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner is democracy. Sometimes ‘the wisdom of the people’ proves to be anything but wise.

That mini-rant about democracy was inspired by a referendum that’s just been conducted by the Auckland University Students’ Association. Very sadly, students have voted in favour of demanding that the AUSA disaffiliate ProLife Auckland.[1] Continue reading

Coming home: A letter to my adoptive daughter

 

I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. (1 Samuel 1:27)

Mother Holding Child's HandDearest Zoë,

You are my beautiful girl, my daughter, the apple of my eye. I’m your daddy. Everything I have is yours, and I will always be there for you.

We just haven’t met yet.

I guess that’s part of life as an adoptive family.

I’m writing this during our family’s ‘living in limbo’ phase. We’ve been matched together as adoptive family, and we’re desperate to meet in person and be together as soon as possible. It’s a strange, unsatisfying time – a little like the ‘now-but-not-yet’ of the Christian life (don’t worry, I’ll explain that to you one day). But I guess this in-between period gives us time for some reflection. What might our life together look like? What blessings and challenges will our new-look family bring? And why are we doing this? Continue reading

What’s that smell? Burning books, or burning martyr?

bannedA couple of brief thoughts from afar on the book ‘banning’ debacle unfolding in NSW, for what they are worth…

First, it’s kind of amusing but not insignificant that one of the three books is misnamed. It seems like they meant to ban either this one or this one, and it’s genuinely hard to work out which one is intended. (Everyone seems to be forging ahead on the basis that it’s John Dickson’s book.) It makes the DEC’s directive look amateurish, and leaves the impression that the whole thing was hastily cobbled together rather than carefully considered. If I were banning a book, I’d want to at least be clear on the name of the book. Continue reading

To Sin By Silence: The danger of enabling spiritual abuse

Cover Eyes“Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.” (Ephesians 5:11)

Last month, when I wrote about the massive issue of spiritual abuse and what’s happened with Mark Driscoll, I expected a decent number of people to read the article. Driscoll is a high profile guy, and spiritual abuse and bullying within churches is a really big issue.

It certainly seems like lots of people have read it, and that’s good. If the aim of that piece was to shine light on an often-hidden and widely misunderstood issue, more people reading it can only help. Continue reading

Houston and Homosexuality in a world of Sound Bites and Tribalism

Brian Houston
Photo Courtesy: Christian Post

I’m not a huge fan of Brian Houston (if you want to know why, ask me about the sermon on Matthew 21 where he encouraged listeners to ‘loose the donkey’ in their life). And I’m not a huge fan of Hillsong, a movement that has welcomed and endorsed people who are “widely recognised as false teachers and deniers of key doctrine”.

Yet over the weekend, I noticed a number of people (including some of my friends) getting very worked up about comments Brian Houston made on the topic of same-sex marriage and homosexuality. You can read a transcript of his comments, a couple of the subsequent reports, and a clarification issued by Hillsong. You can also listen to the audio of the press conference here. Continue reading

Is God Homophobic? (Spoiler Alert: No, he’s not)

An edited version of a talk delivered on campus at the University of Canterbury in August 2014

I thought I’d begin this article with a worship song – not a worship song about God, the kind that some of us are used to singing at church on Sundays. This is a worship song about something different: sex.

If you pay attention to the content of a lot of music today, it becomes obvious: we are taught to worship sex. And it’s not just music; it’s also TV, movies, and other forms of pop culture. Sex is depicted as an ultimate goal, something to chase after and live for. Not having sex makes you a loser, but having (great) sex makes you a winner. Pursuing sex, at the expense of other things, is a worthy goal. Continue reading

31 Days of Prayer: Day 17 – Why praying beats voting

NZ PM JOHN KEY MELBOURNE“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people — for kings and all those in authority…” (1 Tim 2:1-2)

Here in New Zealand, we’re just over a month away from our latest national election (September 20). It’s a strange thing – I’m not exactly excited about the election, but I should be. How many people in the world would give anything – how many people down through the years have given everything – for the right to vote as freely as I can? (That’s if I can be bothered, in a land of non-compulsory voting.) Continue reading