Helping women of faith find hope and healing after emotional and spiritual abuse

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Bonus Episode TRANSCRIPT

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Hi. This is Natalie Hoffman of Flyingfreenow.com, and you’re listening to the Flying Free Podcast, a support resource for women of faith looking for hope and healing from hidden emotional and spiritual abuse.

NATALIE:   Welcome to our very first bonus episode for the Flying Free Podcast. There’s no number on this; it’s just the first bonus episode. My husband and I attended the ERLC Caring Well National Conference in Dallas, TX this week. I thought it would be fun to record an episode with one of my Texan friends and fellow survivor, Daphne. We actually sat in a car and recorded this episode on my iPhone. I’m recording the introduction on my iPhone as well because I’m still here in Texas. We’re going to scramble to put this together so we can publish it as soon as possible when I get back so that you have the scoop right after the conference is over. It was a very interesting conference, and that’s what we’re going to talk about. I think you will find this intriguing. We took copious notes, and we share some of the wonderful highlights. There are some links we will share with you as well so that you can watch some or all the conference if you want to on your own online. I think you will like this episode. There are some gems in here for survivors that you are not going to want to miss.  Without further ado, let’s get started!

NATALIE:   Hi! My friend Daphne and I are sitting in a car. We’re hoping it doesn’t get too hot in here. We’re going to discuss the conference we just attended. Daphne, do you want to talk about that a little bit?

DAPHNE:  Yeah. This was an annual conference put on by the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, which is an arm of the Southern Baptist Convention. The focus this year was on abuse and equipping the church to care well for people who have been abused.

NATALIE:   What were your expectations for this conference?

DAPHNE:  Going in, I thought it was a complete PR move for sure. There was an article that came out earlier this year in The Houston Chronicle that named over 700 different instances of abuse within the SBC, so they were really in the hot seat. I really thought it was a PR move and they wanted to make the appearance of doing things to address the complaints and the allegations – not even allegations but documented instances of abuse by SBC pastors and leaders. I thought going in that they were just trying to clear their name a bit.

NATALIE:   Yep. They want to make it look like they’re on the cutting edge of addressing abuse when they’re way behind. Yeah, I agree. That’s exactly what I thought. In fact, I really didn’t even know what I was getting into when I signed up for the conference. I just thought it was a conference put on by advocates. It looked good. It had some great speakers. I knew Rachel Denhollander was going to be there, and Beth Moore, and Boz Tchividjian. I really wanted to hear them speak, so I signed up. It wasn’t until later that I found out that this was being put on by the SBC. Then I was super disappointed, as I had already paid for my plane ticket, because I thought, “Great! We’re going to have to go listen to them act like they know what they’re doing when they clearly do not know what they are doing. I had been ex-communicated from a church that had acted like they were on the cutting edge of dealing with abuse. Then they went ahead and ex-communicated me – clearly not understanding what they were doing.” So I thought it would be so triggering. I was not super excited about it. But my expectations were completely … I don’t know what the word is that I’m looking for. But she’s an attorney. Daphne, tell they what you do

DAPHNE:  I’m an attorney for a non-profit law firm. We provide legal services for free for Texans who can’t afford attorneys otherwise, which is a lot of Texans. I can’t even afford an attorney, and I am an attorney. That tells you a little bit about how much it costs.

NATALIE:   And she is half my age, so her brain thinks way more clearly than mine does. I don’t even remember what I was saying.

DAPHNE:  You were talking about your expectations, and basically that you didn’t have any or that they were really low.

NATALIE:   Yeah, they were very low. But I was really surprised. What about you?

DAPHNE:  Yes, I was surprised by what happened. I wanted to say too that sexual abuse is not a part of my story.  I know that that is something in particular … I know the focus of this conference was to address sexual abuse, so I want to be sensitive to survivors who have experienced that especially in the SBC who are still trying to tell their stories and not being heard. I want to be sensitive to that. I’d love to hear feedback from folks that were there who maybe had different thoughts than I do. But I was actually sort of surprised by the tone of the conference. I was surprised by the knowledge people seemed to exhibit about abuse and specifically about the power dynamics that play into and contribute to abuse of all forms.

NATALIE:   Yes. Some of the speakers are strong abuse advocates on the front line, so they obviously have a vocabulary and an understanding of it as well as an understanding of the nuances of abuse and the layers that are involved. But some of the speakers, higher ups in the SBC – I was pleasantly surprised. You can tell they’ve had some training and education now.   They are listening, which is good. I don’t know how much they are listening to survivors, but it sounded like they actually had listened to several survivors. That surprised me too. With almost all the sessions, I went away feeling like I thought they were beginning to get it. It gave me some hope that maybe this is the beginning of the ship turning possibly.

DAPHNE:  Hopefully so. Another thing that was surprising was that they had speakers who have been vocal in speaking out against the theology and the culture of the SBC. They brought those speakers onstage and gave them a platform where they really condemned the SBC

NATALIE:   They did!

DAPHNE:  I’m thinking specifically of Beth Moore and Boz Tchividjian.

NATALIE:   Yes, and Rachel even.

DAPHNE:  Oh yeah!

NATALIE:   They came out and said hard-hitting … Like Boz even said, “I will not wear this lanyard because it’s got advertising on it.” I can’t remember how he put it, but he wasn’t going to be part of something that was just trying to make money or trying to sell things. That wasn’t the only hard thing. If any of you follow the Flying Free Facebook page, I posted some of these videos. I took small clips of Boz’s talk. I taped all of Rachel’s talk. I put a clip of Beth Moore because she answered the question, “Is complementarianism actually contributing to abuse?” She did not tiptoe around that subject. She just basically came out and said, “Yes.” You can watch the livestream, but I don’t know when that will be available. They made it sound like it wouldn’t be for a few weeks.

DAPHNE:  Yeah, I think some of them are online already. I’ve seen Jackie Hill Perry’s talk. I think they said within the next couple of weeks they want to get all of those posted.

NATALIE:   Okay. So if you want to watch the short clips, you can go to my Facebook page and look up in the videos to see those. They are well worth watching. Rachel got a standing ovation. Beth Moore got a standing ovation. People were standing up yelling, “Preach! Amen!” and were really excited. I think the atmosphere of the place, the people who were attending, were people who have a vested interest in seeing these changes take place within the SBC. That said, the SBC is made up of millions of people.

DAPHNE:  Yeah, one of the first speakers (it may have been J.D. Greear, who is the SBC president) pointed out that there are 15 million parishioners in the SBC …

NATALIE:   That is huge.

DAPHNE:  … and a couple hundred thousand employees with the SBC just as an organization. Even outside of the SBC, it is one of the most influential Christian organizations in the country for sure. I know a lot of churches that are not officially affiliated with the SBC that are still loosely tied or follow their lead on a lot of issues such as this one.

NATALIE:   Yeah. So we don’t know … Someone else had said that a lot of churches … It’s kind of a loose affiliation. There’s not that real strong accountability. Churches can have different policies on a lot of things. Because of that, as an organization they have this Caring Well training that they can go through, but not every church is going to do that. Because there has been so much (and probably is still going on) covered up abuse in leadership, those leaders are not going to come and expose themselves and say, “Oh yeah, we want more accountability. We want to go through the training. We want to make sure we have all of those policies in place so that we can expose ourselves.” They aren’t going to want to do that. It’s a gargantuan ship, but it must start somewhere. What I’d like to see is even more abuse issues addressed. Sexual abuse is only one type of abuse, and I think there are so many other types of abuse happening in churches and in the homes of people who are part of this organization.

DAPHNE:  For sure. You were talking about the accountability in the SBC. Boz made a good point in his talk. He was saying that the organization kind of leans into that, and they decide to lean into that when they want. What he said is that the SBC has little control over the individual congregations, but he said, “What would happen if the church appointed a woman or a gay man as a pastor?” That was a very poignant point. The SBC kind of steps in and takes control when it’s important to them, so there are a lot of those inconsistencies and contradictions that the speakers pointed out. So it was surprising to me for them to even invite those speakers.

NATALIE:   But they did, and I didn’t feel like … Russell Moore was onstage with Rachel Denhollander and I was watching his face because I wanted to see if he was surprised by the things that she said or if he was even slightly offended. He really seemed to warmly welcome the hard-hitting things that she was saying. That was encouraging. I felt like he appreciated the input. One of the things that Boz … Speaking of Boz, he brought up and listed the names of some of the specific victims within the SBC that have been very vocal. One has even written a book called This Little Light of Mine. They have tried to expose, and SBC higher members have covered up their exposure, not listened to them, and silenced them. Boz said, “Those people should have been here. They should be heard.” He and Rachel Denhollander both said there should be specific apologies. We don’t just say, “We did some wrong things.” They should specifically name names and specifically name sins. “This person, we are sorry that we did this specifically, and we are sorry that it hurt you in these ways,” and then be able to list all the ways that it hurt the other person. Finally, “We are committed to doing this, this, and this to make restitution for our sins.” We didn’t see that.

DAPHNE:  Yeah, we didn’t see that. We have seen a general, “Oh, we’re sorry.” But Rachel talked about it like with her kids. “Oh, I’m sorry that you got hurt.” That’s not a real, genuine apology. That’s not real repentance. We know what that looks like. Like you said, that would be naming specific names or even saying, “We, as the SBC, enabled this person and this person and this person to continue to commit crimes – sexual abuse is a crime – and we enabled people to continue to do that.”  I think one of the things Rachel said was, “You tried to tell us, and we didn’t listen, and it kept happening.” I think she mentioned a survivor, Tiffany Thigpen. It happened after Krista Brown had mentioned and was trying to get attention about a specific abuser, but no one did anything to stop it. Even the SBC, I could see them trying to take their hands off it and say, “These people out here are doing these things.” But they must specifically address what they have done to enable this behavior to continue to happen.

NATALIE:   Yep. She called out the people too. She said that this is an organization that claims to be congregation led; so, the congregation needs to rise up and elect leaders or de-elect leaders … Or what’s the word for that.

DAPHNE:  Ex-communicate? I don’t know.

NATALIE:   That would be preferable. But to get rid of people that aren’t good or aren’t interested in putting these policies into place. I thought maybe we could share some of our favorite highlights of the conference. Let’s start toward the beginning. Russell Moore kicked off the whole conference, and he said some really great things. He said, “There is nothing more satanic than using the cross of Jesus, or the idea of forgiveness and grace, to continue to destroy.” He used the parable of the hired hands and the Good Shepherd and the wolves coming into the flock. He made this point that I thought was good. He said the hired hands are not the ones that are preying on the sheep. The wolves are the ones preying on the sheep. The hired hands are supposed to be protecting the sheep. But when they get scared and push comes to shove, they are running away. They’re not protecting the sheep. They are letting the wolves get the sheep because they are not in it for the sheep. They are in it for themselves. They are in it for the pay. They are just in it to get their money and leave. They aren’t interested in protecting the sheep the way the Good Shepherd is interested in protecting the sheep.

DAPHNE:  Because they just want to be comfortable. That was another thing he pointed out. The hired hands didn’t know they had to get messy to do their job.

NATALIE:   Exactly. That’s too much work. We have to fight wolves? No, we’d rather run away and let the sheep fend for themselves. He said too that Jesus never protects his reputation by covering up sin. I thought that was really good.

DAPHNE:  Yeah, I made note of that too. The next big keynote was from J.D. Greear, who is the SBC president. There were some survivor stories in there too that I thought were good. All the survivor stories, they didn’t necessarily include instances of abuse within the SBC, which was probably an intentional choice and it was a criticism going in. Why aren’t they picking survivors that have had those experiences? The survivor stories – they are very powerful. They obviously should not have happened, but I wonder if the SBC is still kind of cherry picking which stories to put up. But the survivors showed amazing courage and bravery for sharing their stories with this audience who may or may not be fully safe. I really do commend all the survivors for sharing in that environment because I’m sure there were a lot of people that they helped. In J.D. Greear’s talk, he talked about overturning myths related to sexual abuse in the church. He listed seven. I think the one that really stood out to me and I think is the most relevant to your audience already was one relating to marriage. There wasn’t a lot of talk about marriage and abuse in marriage at this particular conference. But one of the myths that he pointed out was that “enduring abuse in marriage is part of learning to love like Jesus.” That is spiritual abuse – flipping and switching Scripture to try to keep someone in an oppressive situation when we know that is not what Jesus wants for us. One of the things he touched on and then moved on quickly was when he said, “Being casual or deferential toward abuse to try to prevent divorce is like saying, ‘Let us do evil so that good may come.’”

NATALIE:   Yeah, I loved that.

DAPHNE:  I thought that was amazing. There really could be a whole conference on just that issue – on abuse in marriage and what the church is doing to enable that to continue to happen.

NATALIE:   Yes. We did a breakout session with Leslie Vernick and Chris Moles where they talked just about that. But there was just a fraction of the people who got to hear that. It was the only one. But I definitely agree with you. I think a whole conference on abuse in marriage could easily be put together. I think one thing I liked about J.D. Greear’s talk is that he said, “A posture of grace requires giving the benefit of the doubt.” So basically if you are going to be a grace-filled person and offer grace, you need to give people the benefit of the doubt including the abused. What they really do though is to most often give the abuser the benefit of the doubt. If someone comes forward with allegations, the leaders generally say, “Well, we need to give him the benefit of the doubt. Innocent until proven guilty, right?” But his point is why do we not give the victim the benefit of the doubt that she is telling the truth? Statistically, it is only two to four percent of allegations that are false. So why in the world would you say, when 96 to 98 percent of the time it is true, that we will not give the victim the benefit of the doubt but we will give the abuser the benefit of the doubt, who 96 to 98 percent of the time is actually truly an abuser and truly did the act? I was just glad that he brought that up because I hear that all the time in churches.

DAPHNE:  He also acknowledged, and I think this is a quote from someone else, but I didn’t catch who it was, that “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” I think he acknowledged that just changing policies is not going to solve the issue if the culture is one of disrespect, devaluing, and dishonoring women and children in the church.

NATALIE:   Yes! That was such an important statement. That’s the reason why, when I talk about the ship turning, it is going to turn very slowly because they can start putting these policies into place, and they can do the Caring Well challenge, but if they are still teaching that women are … Who brought that up? Someone even brought that up. Was it Beth Moore?

DAPHNE:  It might have been.

NATALIE:   Who said, “As long as you are teaching that women are subservient to men or that women are under men – it’s men on top and women underneath – as long as you are teaching that then you are going to continue to have a problem with abuse?” I think it was Beth Moore.

DAPHNE:  I think it was Beth Moore, and I think several speakers brought that up, which was encouraging.

NATALIE:   So encouraging.

DAPHNE:  The sad thing was that when she brought it up, Beth Moore said, “Maybe I’ll have to go into witness protection.” Boz was like, “Well, you know, this might be the last time.” It’s sad that they had to acknowledge that part of the culture is that if I speak up and tell the truth then I might get shunned. But that is really the dynamic that has been happening to people who accuse folks of abuse within the SBC anyway.

NATALIE:   Exactly. Another quote I wanted to bring out was from guy named Gregory Love, who is a civil trial lawyer. He was phenomenal!

DAPHNE:  I think lawyers are great.

NATALIE:   Me too! He was talking about how you must build the right fence to keep out the wolves or whatever animal you are trying to keep out. So you could build a barbed wire fence and that will keep out cattle, but it will not keep out rabbits. In a church setting if you are trying to keep out predators … He made the point that statistically an abduction offender – someone who would kidnap a child, rape them, and kill them – those only represent four percent of the incidents. 96 percent of the incidents are done by preferential offenders, who are offenders who prefer a certain age or a certain gender to offend. Those people aren’t on the outside of the church; they are actually on the inside of the church because those kinds of predators are the kind of people who always know their victims and their victims know them. Their victims know them and trust them. They will groom all the gatekeepers, so the gatekeepers also know and trust them. Then he talked about how churches will often have these protocols in place, which are important, like background checks and matching the tags before you let the child out. Those are great, but the problem is that the sexual offenders are already in the nursery and in the Sunday School class. You need to understand where the problem is, and the proper fence to build in a church is to understand the grooming process because they groom. They groom everyone around the victim, and then they groom the victim – then they offend. If you understand the grooming process, then you can set up protocols that will trigger warning signs of grooming that is taking place. Then you have what I think his wife called “bright lines.” If you cross that bright line – and you make sure the bright lines are well known by everybody – then you no longer work in the nursery. You no longer can be in the Sunday School class. It could be a line that you must always be with another adult when you are with a child. You can’t ever be with a child alone. You can’t ever take a child to the restroom. You can’t ever put a child on your lap. I could go into long details about that talk, but I thought it was very intriguing.

DAPHNE:  Yes, and it is super important to talk about because a lot of survivors talked about being abused as children.

NATALIE:   Yes. They always knew. All the survivor’s stories that we heard this weekend, they all knew and trusted their predators. What else did you have?

DAPHNE:  Beth Moore was probably the primary highlight for me. I can’t say enough about how great her talk was. Going back to what we said before about how there wasn’t a big focus on marriage, I appreciated how when Leslie Vernick was on with a panel, most of the questions she got she drew back to talk about it in the context of marriage. I really appreciated that. In general, talking about other kinds of abuse, for those who have been sexually abused there is also a component of emotional abuse and in churches there is a component of spiritual abuse that happens even before any kind of sexual act happens. That’s what grooming is. There is manipulation and using scriptures to maintain that position of power and control. I’m glad they had people there who really focused on that particular dynamic and named it as emotional and spiritual abuse.

NATALIE:   Yep. I wish there could have been more of that, but there was some of it. A guy named Gary Haugen – do you remember who he was?

DAPHNE:  He’s the CEO of International Justice Mission.

NATALIE:   He was talking about the story of Captain Jones who said, “We have not yet begun to fight.” He gave a rousing call. One of the things he said that I wrote down was, “There are victories reserved for those who simply refuse to go away.” I just loved that, and I wanted to bring that up with you listeners because so many of you are victims, but you are survivors. You are not only victims and survivors, but you are also freedom fighters. That is something that all of us together united, if we simply refuse to go away … I think of Krista Brown or some of these other women who have refused to go away even despite being ostracized, excommunicated, vilified, slandered, and completely and totally ignored. I just want to encourage you – don’t go away! Simply refuse to go away because there are victories reserved for you, but we must persevere. We must keep fighting, keep going, and keep using our voices because when we do … It has taken years for those women in the SBC, but now look! Years later, something is starting to happen. The ice is starting to crack, and it is because those women wouldn’t go away. So keep going. Continuing on with some of our favorite quotes, there was a survivor named Susan Codone. I wanted to share this one quote from her. She was talking about finding a good counselor and how churches tend to say, “You need to see a Bible counselor.” She said, “If you have stage four cancer, you’re not going to look specifically for a Christian surgeon.” (If you get a Christian surgeon, great. But you aren’t going to go out and have your qualification be that he must be a Christian.) “You’re going to go out and look for the best surgeon. You don’t care if he is Christian or secular or whatever, as long as he is the best surgeon.” Basically, we need to think that way as far as the kind of treatment we get for our trauma because trauma is something that we need quality treatment for. Just because someone is a Christian does not mean they can provide that quality treatment. What she said is that most of the time you are going to get quality treatment from someone who has training. In her experience, her treatment providers were all secular. Another quote from someone who followed up, Andrew Schmutzer – he was talking about grieving. He said this amazing quote. “We will not heal what we will not name. We will not name what we are not willing to grieve.” A lot of times, even on the survivor level, if you don’t know how to name what has happened to you, or if you are unwilling to name what has happened to you – in other words, be honest and call it what it is – then you are not going to be able to heal. If you’re not willing to grieve those losses of what you suffered … You are not going to be willing to name something if you’re not willing to grieve it. So even waking up in the abuse process … You can probably relate to this. When you are waking up, it’s like, “Whoa! If this is really true, I’m going to have to call it what it is, which is abuse. Then I’m going to have to grieve all of these losses.” Those things go hand-in-hand.

DAPHNE:  Yes. His perspective was great because he’s a male survivor or sexual abuse. I think he was the only male survivor that I heard represented on any of the panels. He talked in another session about – he didn’t call it toxic masculinity – but that’s really what it is. That culture that doesn’t create safety for boys to tell people when they’ve been abused. It’s already tough for people to report those types of things because of people in power being manipulative, but even more so for boys. So his perspective was really valuable.

NATALIE:   I wanted to bring out one thing that Justin Holcombe said. He did a talk called, “Get Rid of My Disgrace.” He talked about the three things that survivors really struggle with: distorted self-image, shame, and despair. When he got to shame, he talked about the powerful effect of abuse as far as feeling naked and dirty, being excluded, or being put outside of the camp because now you are used goods. For those of us on this podcast, where most of the listeners have gone through emotional abuse, it is the same thing. We go through the same thing. When we try to disclose what’s happened to us, which can sometimes be very difficult to explain, we get excluded. We get told things that we’re bad. That we’re naked. That we’re dirty, and we get put outside the camp. It made me think of my own experience of being excommunicated. I felt exactly like that. I felt so much shame, and it was really hard to come back from that. I still really struggle with that. Of all the things that happened to me in my healing, that is something that is still not healed yet. I’m going to look through my notes so we don’t miss anything. Did you want to talk about Diane Langberg’s talk for a bit?

DAPHNE:  Yes. I wasn’t familiar with Diane Langberg before this weekend. She did a keynote, and then she did a breakout session. Both were great. For the breakout, she talked about trauma and what was necessary to heal from trauma. She talked about talking, tears, and time. It was comforting to hear that, and I hope informative for people who are wanting to walk alongside survivors and maybe don’t know what to do. She really emphasized to just listen.

NATALIE:   Right. I though it was interesting. The way she put it is, “To heal from trauma, it involves a reversal of the trauma.” So the three things Daphne just mentioned:  talking, tears, and time. You need to talk about it; that means repetitive talking. Do you feel like you have an outlet or someone to talk about what is going on?

DAPHNE:  Well, y’all! Flying Free really. The ladies in Flying Free that just get it and they understand. They already intrinsically know how to support because they’ve been through it.

NATALIE:   So talking reverses the trauma of silence. Then tears – you need to grieve and cry. That reverses the trauma of the darkness. Then time – it takes time. She was talking more to people helpers, but I know on this podcast we’re talking to a lot of survivors. I think it’s important for you all to know that your healing from trauma is going to take all of those things. You are going to need to have someone that you can talk to or several people you can talk to so that you can articulate what happened over and over again. It can take years. You need to cry. You need to cry a lot and you need to cry deeply. You need to cry with someone and alone. I think it’s important to share your tears with someone. Then you have to know that it is going to take time to heal. Oh, I want to talk about Leslie Vernick and Chris Moles. (Wait, is that a cop? There is a guy in a gargantuan truck wearing a uniform, who I thought was a cop, backing into his driveway.)

DAPHNE:  Welcome to Texas. You can edit that part out.

NATALIE:   No. We’re not going to edit it out. That’s funny!

DAPHNE:  That is definitely a Texas-sized truck.

NATALIE:   Oh my word! This truck is like the size of a house. I thought he was going to hit us and engulf us. Okay, back to topic. Chris Moles put up a great graphic on the screen. It showed how abuse escalates and what the woman does to resist abuse. In tactic one, the abuser isolates with guilt. What the woman does is either ignore it, complain, or hide. She is resisting in those ways. With tactic two, the abuser may offer words that are aggressive and painful. She will resist by either verbally attacking back or threatening him. Then he will up the power struggle to where he is directly controlling or threatening her. She will resist with counter threats, or she may leave. In the fourth tactic, he may directly abuse her physically, intimidate her, restrain her or block her from going somewhere. She may resist by physically attacking him back, swearing, or calling the police. What happens in a church setting, however, is that the woman comes and asks for help. What they will do is let him off the hook for all his escalating, and they will put her on the hook for her resistance.

DAPHNE:  Right. Or they will put them both on the hook and say, “Well, everybody has sin.” They may address it that way versus looking at the power dynamic and the manipulation that is happening.

NATALIE:   Right. I can say, being remarried, my first marriage was that graphic he put up. They did look at my resistance and saw it as sinful and wrong. But in my current relationship, we have never had any of that happen, and it’s because I don’t have to resist. I’m not a dysfunctional person. I’m a normal person who resists abuse. If you are going to abuse me, I am going to resist you.

DAPHNE:  You should!

NATALIE:   Exactly! That is not a sin to resist. I hope that encourages those of you who are still in your relationships. You are resisting. You may feel guilty for resisting. You just have to know that resisting is part of dealing with abuse. So get help. If you church isn’t helping you, you need to get help elsewhere. Anyway, I think I’m done with mine.

DAPHNE:  I wanted to mention this sermon by the vice-president of the ERLC, Phillip Bethancourt. He preached a sermon that he called “The Future of the SBC.” He preached it all on the passages in Genesis 38 where essentially Tamar was abused over and over. I had never heard a sermon on abuse that powerful. He really called out the SBC. It was powerful hearing him call out the SBC versus other folks who are not directly affiliated. He even went as far as to say to the SBC if we don’t do all we can to protect survivors of abuse, then we ought to die as a denomination.

NATALIE:   Wow!

DAPHNE:  I thought that was really powerful. I know that actions speak louder than words, obviously. It’s going to take some time to see how committed the SBC is to really be doing what they are supposed to do, but he came out real strongly, which I really appreciated.

NATALIE:   Yeah, I thought it was wonderful. We didn’t really talk about Rachel Denhollander’s talk, but I didn’t take notes because I was videotaping the whole thing. If you have a chance to go over to the Flying Free Facebook page … In the show notes I will put a link to the videos that are on the Facebook – at least to Rachel Denhollander’s. If you are listening on your phone or a podcast app, you can go to my website, flyingfreenow.com/bonus1 and I’ll put in links to those videos as well as links to where these entire videos are being housed online. I don’t think they will be online for a couple of weeks, however. So I will add those later. It was pointless to take notes because every single word that came out of her mouth was golden. Wouldn’t you agree?

DAPHNE:  Yes. I took quite a few notes on her talk, but it was great. One of the great points she mentioned, and a reason why I am encouraged, is that she said the church has failed but Christ has not. I think that is the most encouraging thing for me even moving forward in my own faith, knowing that God loves me and cares about me. That message rang through, and I think that message will ring through from this conference no matter what happens. Whether the SBC addresses this how they need to going forward or not, I really hope the message rings through. Diane Langberg brought up this point too. There is Christendom versus Christ. What people do in the name of God is not necessarily coming from God. Remember that distinction and be able to love and trust God even when the people of the church fail.

NATALIE:   Yes. Thank you so much, Daphne, for doing this special episode. It was super fun.

DAPHNE:  It’s been fun.