Wednesday, March 28, 2007

A Safe Place?

Who used to use the Safe Place Defense to justify their actions in American History? You may be surprised to find out.

Just because we are "safe" does not mean we are free.

"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." (Galations 5:1) He doesn't mention anything about being safe. It's hard to be safe when one is carrying around a cross. Or out on a battlefield. Or when sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ inside hostile territory where Anglican Christians are chopped up and sent home to their families. Let's get real.


Kevin said...

Some might not have any clue what you are talking about BB.

+++Williams released a statement which part of it contained:

"No-one reading this report can be complacent about such a situation, and the Church is challenged to show that it is truly a safe place for people to be honest and where they may be confident that they will have their human dignity respected, whatever serious disagreements about ethics may remain. It is good to know that the pastoral care of
homosexual people is affirmed clearly by so many provinces."

Now I understand why the reaction, often these words are applied in ways that is no in context to their 'Webster' meaning. However I believe this is why we're seen as such unreasonable people by secular people judging us. Look at this denotatively and not connotatively.

I know it's too easily to reject because of how practiced. Literal definitions of these words is actually quite the model of the Church as a hospital for sinners as the whole statement reads. It might help us read beyond type of sin by replacing it with another type.

I think the direct reaction is why we're seen as such reactionaries, for the world reads only the dictionary definition. My question is how can we implement to words without also bringing in the hidden agenda?

Unknown said...

I don't think that's possible, Kevin. It's not a theological document - it's a political one. See the conversation over at Thinking Anglicans - it's an eyeopener.

Unknown said...

PS "Safe" does not mean healthy - or free. Safe is "controlling." Make no mistake about it. A person in solidary confinement is safe, but he's not free.


Kevin said...

How do we beat them at their own game?

Kevin said...

My deepest concern is that become a social club for the 'Christian elite' as I've seen so much in Northern Virginia.

Joseph Hart penned:

"Come, ye weary, heavy laden,
Lost and ruined by the fall;
If you tarry till you’re better,
You will never come at all."

This gets messy, but do we treat a man who walked out on his wife for another woman differently than we do someone trapped in the GLBT sins? Would they hear one of +Minns presentation of the Gospel if they don't feel welcomed to sit? Then there must be boundaries as well. Still what does "pastoral care" mean and when do we deny it?

Kevin said...

RE:See the conversation over at Thinking Anglicans - it's an eyeopener.

I guess that's exactly my point with, "I think the direct reaction is why we're seen as such reactionaries, for the world reads only the dictionary definition."

Other than a few thousand "geeks" that follow this stuff intently, nobody else is reading Thinking Anglicans. So the other side is defining the politics we react off of it frequently siting Biblical verses but I fear we push people away from Christ!!

Here's the deal, I missed the ABC's statement so puzzled by your post. I then read the ABC statement today but didn't immediately connect the dots, then it hit me. More than this goes with that, but how someone from the outside might see the ABC statement and then your reaction. Maybe we know too much and the other side has learned to manipulate the whole debate.

Unknown said...

One way is by telling the truth. Safe Places is not about Safe Places - it's about control.

In order to make something "safe" in an unsafe world, restrictions must be put in place. My mind has been on Harry Potter lately (obviously) and in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, we are introduced to Delores Umbridge, a high-ranking member of the wizarding government. One of the things she did was work to make the wizarding world safe by imposing new werewolf laws. That sounds really good - everyone wants to be safe from werewolves, right? Only it meant that people like the wonderful Remis Lupin, one of the original Marauders, could not get a job and was shunned by society (ironic, isn't it?).

We are commanded to love the Lord God and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Either we do that or we don't. In the context in which the word "safe place" is being used to defend a type of lifestyle that is contrary to the moral teachings of scripture. In order for some place to be safe, we will need to agree that the lifestyle is safe - but it is not. Scripture is very clear about that - so the real issue is whether Scripture is safe and trustworthy - that's the real issue here.

Defending immoral living by using the "safe place" defense sounds like the rationale we see in the linked-article in this posting. The slaves may have had food to eat and a place to live (see photo) - but they were safe as long as they obeyed the rules imposed over them by slaveholders - which meant they had no freedom. The slaveholders used the argument that the North, where Abolitionism was born, was unsafe for black men and women who were treated worse then the slaves in the south. They skewed the facts to suit their purpose of justifying their immoral lifestyle. If you challenged that lifestyle, they called you names (see article) - and some of those names and accusations were terrible. They imposed fear in the southern population for what the North was up to (conspiracy theories and fear- mongering) for shaking up their comfortable status quo. Look at the rationale the slaveholders were using - how they say that slavery is actually good for black men and women. It's their lot in life - they have no choice, but were born that way. Sound familiar?

So is it a loving thing to create "safe places" and not challenge the status quo? Who gets to decide what is "safe" and what is "not safe?" How can Christianity be safe when at the center is the Cross?

This article makes it sound like the slaveholders are the victims - it's a political weapon they are employing and we need to be on our guard when that weapon is imposed by one group seeking to control another.

There are times when I think that outreach ministries like Regeneration and Exodus are the modern Underground Railroad.


Kevin said...

I agree with your logic, except I don't think the slaves were safe!!

They were not safe from beatings, they were not safe from emotional abuse watching child torn from mother.

Safe adj.

1. Secure from danger, harm, or evil. 2. Free from danger or injury; unhurt: safe and sound. 3. Free from risk; sure: a safe bet. 4. Affording protection: a safe place. 5. Baseball. Having reached a base without being put out, as a batter or base runner.

We must learn to not let them steal the language and always having to come up with new terms.

In Christ we are ultimately safe as in #1 but maybe not temporal. A unrepentant sinner my be safe temporal but certainly not eternal. Christ is safe as in #3 as well and as a Church we should strive use #4 in line with #1 eternal by the means of #3.

ABC is using the word as #2 & #4 but in terms of #5. Meaning a runner who is safe plays on, unchanged by events.

Unknown said...

EXACTLY!!!! But the slaveholders used that rationale - you can see in the attached article and the similarity to rationale we hear justifying actions that are tearing apart the bonds of affection of the church is uncanny.

Our safety, our refuge is in Christ and Christ alone - that is true for all people. But his kind of safety does not mean we escape carrying a cross.

Kevin said...

All due & deepest respect BB. The word "safe" *IS* what we are to create in the Church. In part the ABC is fully correct and why he's still holding the high ground.

The Church *IS* supposed to be safe as in align with John 13:34, Acts 4:32-37, Romans 12, Gal 5:13, Gal 6:10, Phil 2:3-4, Col 3:9-13, James 2:1-13 etc.

I think the conscientiousness of the world knows this in that odd way I had unbelievers encouraging to do what was right when my ex. was causing be grieve. They wanted me to live the Christian live, these unbeliever pressed me to let go and be nice. I think we're tasked not only to rebut the politics but also answer the charge, 'yes, a safe place? That means X,Y,Z not as you presented it.'

Truro calls it's congregation a family, which implies safety, families are supposed to be safe. Carrying the cross means making sure it's safe for others. If you enact those verses I cited, it's not safe for you but it does create safety for others. I'm called to the same.

In that sense I completely agree with the ABC and see something lacking in your point. The Cross is a instrument of slow painful death for yourself and your ego, but it also has a redemptive side that give life to others. Thus the upside down logic, we are to be unsafe so the other is safe, we are to give up so others gain.

Unknown said...

It's not a safe place we need, but a healthy one. Dysfunctional families and churches will take great pains to keep their organizations "safe" from the alchoholic father or the problem-pastor, but safe is not healthy - anymore than safe is not free.

What I am calling attention to is the sly way in which "safe place" can actually be a call to quell dissent and that concerns me greatly. See how it's done in this article:

There is abundant evidence to prove that the black man's lot as a slave, is vastly preferable to that of his free brethren at the North. A Boston paper of recent date tells of a likely negro man, twenty-eight years old, who purchased his freedom in Virginia and removed to Boston.--He is sober, industrious and willing to work, but instead of meeting with sympathy from the Abolitionists, he had been deceived, cheated and driven from their presence. The writer describes him as bemoaning his hard lot, weeping like a child, lamenting that he had ever left his former master, and declaring that if he had the means he would gladly return to the old Virginia plantation. And this, we have reason to believe, is not an isolated case, but the experience of a large majority of emancipated slaves and run-away negroes in the Northern States.

See how the author twists it around to say that it is the South that provides the safe place for slaves, not the abolitionist north. Even the Children of Israel longed for the "safe place" they left behind in Egypt over wandering in the wilderness.

It's one thing to crave safety - it's another thing to be free and healthy. That is what concerns about this political attempt use "safe place" to shutdown dissent and appease immorality.

I do not believe that those who are calling for a safe place are thinking about Regeneration or Exodus as a safe place for homosexuals. In fact, I think they believe it's anything but safe.

What Truro and churches all across the globe should be is healthy and free, loving the sinners sacrifically but not the sin. Showing mercy as we have been shown mercy, for it is God's kindness that leads us to repentance. But it is the road of repentance that we need to walk if we are ever to know the wonder of God's grace through the Jesus Christ.


Kevin - you are such a gift here - you really make me think and challenge me with your posts. Thank you.

Kevin said...

So is that why I had such a hard time at some parishes?

I agree with your calling attention to word play. It is very sly and how the argument has basically been in the hand of others.

I'll not back down from my reasoning we should fight for the word "safe place." I did give Scripture reference that give the target. You can not have healthy until you have safe! Another word for a "safe place" is justice!

I've written long email essays on the subject working out the injustices I've been shown and trying to explain what I mean.

See the problem is I full heartedly agree with the quoted text of the ABC. The problem is he qualified it. If he removed the specific we all would probably have little issue with it.

"Church is challenged to show that it is truly a safe place for people to be honest and where they may be confident that they will have their human dignity respected, whatever serious disagreements about ethics may remain. It is good to know that the pastoral care of people ensnared in sin is affirmed clearly by so many provinces."

VERY neat trick. Naming the type of sin we often react as those who have been involved in this too long. We know what it means! The world outside does not. They see us reacting and thus we must disrespect their human dignity & not desire people to have a "safe place."

This is very, very bad, BB! Now through word craft we are advocating injustice! That is why I'm so bull headed not to let these words go to other side. Healthy is no substitute for safe. Tomorrow lunch at Dupot ask random people if they want to be in a safe or healthy place and they'll probably want both -- or you'll find rejection that safe equals bondage, actually people will give up some freedom for safety. A Russian was once ask if they preferred capitalism or communism and the reply was "which will put bread on my table?"

Now technically in denotation, the ABC has said nothing that contradicts the Truro "Hot Button FAQ." I think we'll have a much better strategy not letting the others take the words.

Unknown said...

That's a very good point, Kevin - not to let the words meanings be changed. Safe should mean healthy, it should mean a place to heal. I agree. I think the word "Christ" has been hijacked too, but I don't want to stop using it so you make a very good point. I agree.

Safe does not mean enabled nor is it relinquishing truth. Safe is not living in excuses or hiding from repentance. Safe is not affirming sin. That is not safe, that's unsafe masquarading as safe. We can be kind, we must be kind - for it was kindness the Lord shows us in His mercy. But He also aims to set us free - and calling extra-biblical and unscriptural assertions as safe is nothing of the kind and it certainly is a threat to our spiritual freedom. Remember Braveheart? Freedom.


Kevin said...

(Please forgive the choppiness of my last post. There is a HUGE section clarifying my theories on Justice that was edited out).

I think "safe" is a primal need, which is why it has such power. We need to be safe as little children, if we're not it does horrible things we can carry throughout our lives. We spend billions on national defense. None of us desires to walk down a dark alley with some large shadowy figure lurking.

What is really powerful is the ABC just connected especially to the GLTB community, but also anyone who has felt "unsafe" by use of those words. I grew up in another subculture, one where we also traveled in packs for self-protection and when alone, just might be jump & send to Arlington Hospital with a concussion. The word "safe" is powerful with me. "You are safe" means I'm free to put my defenses down.

There been an unrestrained bully in my life, whom others refused act as a playground monitor. My only recourse is seek protection or move, the first failed so I did the second. Literally my prayer was for a "safe place." In fact the very word "safe" was used in an email to one seeking protection.

Those who may have lived more of a charmed life may not understand. A while back I made a steadfast stance for the word "victim" having been one and this word based on the other and what I've often sought.

Now I agree with your premises of what "safe" is not. However, in my experience I'm not able to receive Truth or repent until I'm "safe." There is a situation I need to work through but finding difficult I'm "safe." It's a very powerful word. Those who have felt "unsafe" in their life probably hear that one word above any thing else.

In Christ,

PS - as for free, I was free once, I was free running the streets of DC a long time ago. Now I'm a bond servant to Christ. It's not that bad, I traded freedom for His care and protection.

Kevin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

BB, not sure I follow all the reasoning here - and haven't seen the ABC's statement (T19 is still down), but may I try something on you? Why don't we just call the GLBT activists' bluff and admit that some ARE "inclined" towards homosexual activity? That doesn't mean God can't "heal" that proclivity, but if we are honest we must admit that He doesn't always; in that sense homosexual attractions are like any other temptation, and no human is ever fully "cured" of temptation, IMHO.

So then - we all have temptations, proclivities, "thorns in the flesh," to use St. Paul's term. So what? We are ALL called to holiness, including sexual holiness. For ALL humanity (not just gays) that means chastity. Chastity for the unmarried (no sex), chastity for the married (sex with ONE PERSON ONLY IN THE ENTIRE WORLD), and yes, chastity for the homosexual.

Taking this approach is honest and will eventually defuse the GLBT activist argument that we're cruel to deny the gay person's identity. It also avoids the ridiculous situations evangelicals sometimes find themslves in, like the recent comments that Ted Haggard was now "100% heterosexual" after three weeks of therapy (yes, I know it was taken out of contect, but...).

I think this approach would also increase the chances that a gay person might actually want to step into an evangelical church like Truro every once in a while.

Thanks for listening, BJM3

Kevin said...


Your post is rather confusing. If you're supporting the classic approach, then I'd agree, if you're using nice language to justify SSU then I'd not for it's a category invented my man in the recent past.


Anonymous said...

Sorry if I was confusing. I am not trying to gain support for SSUs, as I thought I clearly stated above ("no sex" for homosexuals). What I am trying to do is avoid this predicament that evangelicals find themselves in - it seems some of us cannot brook the concept that a person is somehow "inclined" toward homosexual attraction. As I said above, so what if they are? They (like all of us) are still called to pure behavior - and yes, that will be painful for the homosexual, just like it is painful for the unmarried and unhappily married. In that sense, I think I agree with you: we are all in the same boat here, and it's never easy. What the homosexual activists want is a blessing on a certain temptation and some people's acting on that temptation. Orthodoxy's answer must remain: no. But that doesn't mean we have to pretend that the proclivity isn't there, or that, unlike any other temptation known to humans, it is easy to overcome or can be 100% cured forever. Sorry, but please be honest and admit that this is the approach taken by many in the evangelical camp on this issue (if they talk about it at all). Peace to you during this Holy Week --

Kevin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kevin said...

RE:Sorry, but please be honest and admit that this is the approach taken by many in the evangelical camp on this issue (if they talk about it at all).

Are really trying to get me started? [*wink*]

I have a evangelical happy-face rant which I go on from time to time. Temptation is not discussed or people try to cover it. In Truro and TFC there is a lot of pressure to be perfect. Not from the pulpit but peer pressure and the "pretty boys & girls" are rewarded. There huge amount favoritism away from honest struggle with sin towards a hiding by even clergy (funny irony is in one case the hidden maybe much more than the open but clergy rewards the 'happy-faced model').

I agree with post post most than you think. I doubt a struggling person receives much help in most parishes, even beyond CANA to most evangelicals in America. Let a reformed prostitute walk into Truro and let it be known. I seriously doubt she'll find many friends, even if it was years ago. At least that was similar to my experiences and why I reacted so strongly to BB's dismissal of "safe." I did not find many very "safe" even though my history was five to ten years before I darken Truro's doors.

TFC had clergy who entered Satan's turf and showed love to everyone yet without compromise. You knew they would approve but they didn't reject either. That combo is really powerful. I guess too powerful for he did of ALS, 'Sister Mary' fought cancer for years, her daughter has lupus and a son in real bad accident. Truly they have paid the price to serve our Lord and Satan not taken the treat lightly.

Pity TFC doesn't remember their heritage. Today they more desire powerful parishioners, ones that impress. Unfortunately it the least, the last and the lost who Jesus commands us to seek.

YES!!! Hold high the standard and Cross, but don't send someone a book who is grieving or say go to this ministry if you struggle. Both are good things, but not without a relationship. If one who struggles with heterosexual temptation walks in parishioners need to make it safe and non-judgmental to struggle in safety. Especially if chaste but struggling, then there would be a true cost to giving into temptation (a loss or change of relationship), else as it is so often today we often put a stumbling block -- forgetting that they will still be held to account for the compromise but that little bit about mill stones.

I told you I can rant on this topic (especially as I'm connecting to some of those in my interesting past, but unsure how to share Christ, for if one responded - I'm unsure of a safe place to bring them based on how I've been treated. That's a shame).

Have a very blessed Holy Week!!!!!

Looking forward to Easter!

Kevin said...


I've found your short post have stirred a whole lot of thought in me. This is a good thing.

I agree with everything you wrote as I understand it. In fact kind of a kindred spirit in a lot of where the LORD lead recently.

I heard a sermon from a pretty evangelical preacher try to turn Heb 12:5&6 into more like a track coach giving discipline. Sad irony is this man is big on Scripture interpreting Scripture and Heb 12:7-11 gives us the context (Father with two-year old in my mind), but track coach does not go with Prov 22:15, 23:13, Jer. 30:11 1 Cor. 11:32 etc. I had the un-nerving experience of a vestry member demand tribute from me "Kevin, you're not giving me credit, I get credit for obeying God!" (The next Wed. I walked into my first study of the 39 Articles, it was on Article 14).

This is not meant to be a fuss feast, but I see such a discontinuity between classic hymns and sermon to stuff out the today. I love in the movie Amazing Grace how John Newton is shown struggling with his 20,000 ghosts. Yes forgiven and he says so, but not happy-clappy happy-face, very real, very aware of his sin that he had been delivered from. I doubt many who sing "a wretch like me" believe they are a wretch.

RE:It also avoids the ridiculous situations evangelicals sometimes find themslves in, like the recent comments that Ted Haggard was now "100% heterosexual" after three weeks of therapy (yes, I know it was taken out of contect, but...).

I agree with this statement, but I'm confused as what the cure. It's a modern day Pharisee-ism that become a cancer in evangelicalism. We've accepted an easy grace ourselves and not haunted by our sin. Often the right words are mouthed, unlike the two obvious examples of the doctrine of grace gone amuck, yet a disconnect between words preached and lives practiced. Also an acceptance in practice of cheap grace (like the instant Ted Haggard example [I wish I could be delivered from my heterosexual lusts as easily - maybe a 'faith issue' right?])

Thank you BJM3, you got my wheels turning!!! I'm not sure I have any answers for the big situation of the Church other than prayer for the third Great Awakening. Good thoughts for Holy Week. Really highlights the Cross and it's fullness for me, so thank you!

Blessed week and a GREAT Easter!