A meme has been circulating on social media that says “Have you ever saved someone’s reputation by not telling your side of the story?” I called it out asa form of gaslighting. The exchange also compelled me to hasten the publication of my memoir, Deinstitutionalizing God: A Minister’s Journey on Leaving Church to Save Her Faith.
The book is an account of my spiritual formation, faith development, and failed attempts at pursuing ordained ministry due to sexual harassment. As a management consultant by profession, I stepped back and examined the church organically. It provides a behind the veil view of the church like I wish I’d had twenty-five years ago as I committed my life to serving an institution that did not serve me.
Some things are meant to be told. Maya Angelou said, “there is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” Lots of people experiencing homelessness are on corners all over the world with masterpieces in their heads and great stories to tell. They are babbling, but no one is scribing their accounts. I was close to being one and wrote my memoir to release what was driving me crazy.
Completing this project has wrought a wholeness that I did not realize was absent. If you have a story to tell, tell it all. Anyone seeking to deny you this right needs to be scrutinized. Robert Barrett Browning said, “So absolutely good is truth that truth never hurts the teller.” Are you protecting an individual over many other potential victims? Can you live with that?
Nowhere in scripture are we implored to protect anyone’s image against the truth, thus enabling a lie. Yes, I Corinthians 13 says love is slow to expose. It does not say love keeps all secrets. It says love is discreet, revealing them at the right time in the most fitting manner. Elsewhere Scripture tells us For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open. In other words, what is done in the dark will always come to light.
A member of my former church who happened to be a retired police officer told me not to think I can go around talking about sexual harassment and expect to receive the spoils of the institution. Her words were not intended to direct me one way or the other. Rather, she was simply acknowledging the cost of violating the purple code of silence.
Officers of the law have their unwritten blue code of silence which forbids them from speaking openly about the misconduct of their peers no matter how egregious. Other professions and closed societies have the same ethos embedded in their culture. Ask any corporate whistleblower how hard it was ever to find work again.
Snitch and you suffer the consequences. Organized crime and organized religion are no different in culture. Violate omerta and you are dead to them. Such is nowhere to be found in Scripture. Only evil requires a veil of secrecy for its operations.
Before you come for me about airing the church’s dirty laundry, let me put you on notice. God inspired my telling. Take your concerns there and redirect that energy at examining your own motives. Tell the truth and shame the devil, not those who proclaim it.