We’ve had a horrendous thing happen here in our town of Loveland. Marital dispute, separation, filed divorce and restraining order papers led to the father being served at their home. Before it was over, the father had killed the process server, hurt his wife who managed to run for help, and tried to kill his two children before the police stopped him. And he told his children as he choked them that he loved them so much he’d do anything to protect them. It’s horrifying.
On the nightly news, neighbors said the same things, "We never would’ve thought it." "They were such a good family." "They put up a cross at Christmas."
Something else that shocks? This was a family that was active in church. And the process server was a member of the same church they went to. My church.
It is doubly grievous to think about why the gospel of peace wasn’t more pervasive in this family’s life–especially if they were exposed to it regularly. What do we need to do more effectively? I’m not saying it’s our church’s fault; in fact, our pastor is very good at reminding us that none of us is perfect in our church. But it just makes me wonder.
It also troubles me to think of children in families in our churches who are exposed to violence and are abused–and we don’t have a clue.
I’ve been reading a lot of memoirs lately, and one I just read "Driving With Dead People" chronicled the aftermath of abuse that the children experienced from the hands of their church-going father and mother. The abuse happened years ago but it makes me wonder if our church culture has changed enough that families would feel safe enough to tell someone about the reality behind closed doors–before tragedy strikes. What would it look like if we could talk to children openly about being a safe place for them to come if they need to be rescued? For children who go home to living hells, it just makes me wonder if it’s enough to tell nice stories and have great lessons.