Critical Review Of “Christianity And Child Abuse – The Survivors’ Voice Leading To Change”

921 words - 4 pages

In the article “Christianity and child abuse – the survivors’ voice leading to change”, Kennedy (2000) argued how children’s Christianity background can cause additional concerns in the issue of child sexual abuse. Kennedy justified her argument by presenting the fact how spiritual concepts like “the evil/sin of being abused” (126,127,129), “God’s will” (127,129), “sources of God’s grace” (128) have been wrongly used to warrant perpetrators’ inhumane acts. Moreover, she pointed out that both the subliminal messages children perceived of these concepts (128) and “silencing factors”, such as “the doctrine of forgiveness” (131) and no pre-marital sex (130) in Christian context, lead to further shame and guilt in children (131,132,133,134). Apart from the spiritual side, Kennedy also criticized Christian churches’ intention of protecting its own reputation rather than solving the issue (133). Christian communities practiced an unjust demand of forgiveness from the victim and a patriarchal culture (135). Also, Christian communities failed in offering objective policy guidance (136) and ensuring active implementation of the policy document (137). Kennedy ends the passage by prompting the idea that state and church should tackle the problem hand in hand (139), and the engagement of more practitioners with sound religious and psychology understanding (139).
On the contrary to orthodox consensus, Kennedy sees the doctrine of forgiveness as one silencing factor that caused further emotional trauma on abused children (131-4). However, I think the Christian concept of forgiving is indeed a double-edged sword rather than a paradox in child abuse issue. In other words, it could either offer spiritual support or it could worsen the victim’s emotional status due to “the double standard of forgiveness” (my emphasis) in Christian context. In biblical world, forgiving is seen as a Christ-like act. God is gracious and merciful, and forgiving is seen as God’s command. “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”(Ephesians 4:31-32 NIV) In this way, people are incentive to give as their identity of God’s people or as their respect of God. However, a more prominent motive is based on the belief that no one is free from sins and God forgives us only if we forgive others. “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Matthew 6:14-15) Here, the giving of forgiveness is based on a “double standard”. You have to forgive others unconditionally if you want to be forgiven by God. Whereas, the forgiveness given to you by God is conditional depending on how well you forgive others. This unequal...

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