A woman at a rally outside the Southern Baptist Convention (Photo Credit: Butch Dill)

Jennifer Lyell wanted to stop her abuser by telling her story. Instead, her life fell apart.

By Bob Smietana

Jennifer Lyell was trying to do the right thing. 

In the spring of 2019, Lyell, then a well-respected leader in Christian publishing, decided to publicly disclose that she was a survivor of sexual abuse. 

She did so after learning her abuser, a former Southern Baptist seminary professor, author and missionary, had recently returned to ministry. Lyell feared he would once again have the opportunity to abuse others and wanted to stop that from happening.

So she wrote up a statement detailing the abuse and shared it with a reporter from a Christian news organization. Then things went terribly wrong.

Instead of reporting she had been abused, Nashville-based Baptist Press, which is overseen by the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee, reported in March 2019 that Lyell, then a vice president at Lifeway Christian Resources, had admitted being involved in a “morally inappropriate relationship” with her former professor.

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The fallout was quick and devastating. Lyell was labeled on social media as an “adulteress” rather than an abuse survivor, with users leaving scores of vile comments about her on Lifeway’s Facebook page and the Baptist Press website. Pastors and churches called for her to be fired. She lost her reputation, her job, and even her health in the process.

Jennifer Lyell (Photo Credit: Jennifer Lyell)

The article was eventually retracted, but the damage was done.

Lyell said she wished she had never gone public. Instead of receiving support and compassion, she found herself trying to convince critics she was not responsible for the abuse she had experienced at the hands of the former professor.

“It takes years and years to recover from trauma, and no one should be in the position of having to explain it to the whole public while they’re still trying to do that,” she said.

Lyell’s experience reveals the difficulty survivors often face when they try to speak up about their experiences. While churches say they want to care for survivors of abuse, those survivors are often viewed with suspicion, having to prove they are worthy of compassion and respect. And Christian theology about sin and about the roles of men and women often makes it difficult for survivors who come forward.

David Pooler, professor of social work at Baylor University, said sexual misconduct by clergy and other religious leaders is often labeled as “having an affair.” But that description misses the power imbalance at play.

“At its simplest level, it is abuse because it is not consensual,” he said. “A clergy person has enormous power. And because they, in a sense, represent God, they have more power than almost any other professional person that works with other people.”

He said people often turn to clergy when they are at their most vulnerable. And because of their power and influence, pastors and other religious leaders have a responsibility to set up boundaries in their relationships with other people.

Pooler said abusive relationships with clergy often last for years. The abuser often spends years grooming a victim and then does not let the victim go.

David Pooler (Photo Credit: Baylor University)

“Once the person gets access, they keep that access,” he said.

And recovering from abuse as an adult is a long-term process. Survivors often deal with the trauma of the actual abuse along with a sense of betrayal and rejection from other believers, who often take the side of abusers. He said it is often easier for churches to blame victims than to look at the way they have empowered abusers.

Pooler said church members often become “nonprotective bystanders,” whose inaction enables abuse to continue and abusers to go unpunished. He also said churches often believe survivors were participants in their abuser’s sins.

Lyell said that at first, she did receive a great deal of support from Southern Baptist leaders when she told them about the abuse she experienced. In the spring of 2018, after more than two years of therapy, she disclosed to her boss at Lifeway that a former professor named David Sills had first “sexually acted” against her — without her consent — during a mission trip he was leading while she was a seminary student. Lyell said she did not initially report what happened because she was in shock, confused, and scared about what people would believe. Lyell says Sills, who was a surrogate father figure to her, eventually abused her again and then continued for years, even after she left seminary. 

She did not revisit all the details of the abuse but did disclose those details to leaders at Lifeway and then to Al Mohler, the president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, where the professor was employed. Within days, the professor had been confronted and resigned. Lyell said that at the time, she did not want the seminary or Lifeway to publicly disclose what had happened to her. 

Things changed, however, once the abuse became public. The leaders who had the information and ability to correct the inaccuracies supported her privately but were publicly silent. 

She said Southern Baptist leaders do not hesitate to use their public platforms to debate theology or drive culture war issues but rarely call out abusive behavior in their own camp —especially if it means correcting other denominational leaders. They may, at best, support survivors or criticize fellow denominational leaders in private but will not use their power to do the same in public, she said.

“We say that we are not this hierarchy but in reality, we function like we are protecting the barracks of the Vatican,” she said.

Hilary Scarsella, assistant professor of ethics and director of women and gender studies at Colgate Rochester Crozier Divinity School, said survivors of clergy abuse can feel trapped because they know publicly disclosing the abuse may have consequences, both to their own faith and their place in the community.

“Survivors don’t just lose their trust in that one person,” she said. “They also risk losing their relationships with everybody else who has a relationship with that person — because when the chips fall, you don’t know how they’re going to fall.”

Scarsella, who also works with a nonprofit that advocates for abuse victims, noted that clergy abusers also often know how to use the theology of sin for their advantage. By admitting to having sinned and asking for forgiveness, they can mitigate the consequences of their actions and preserve a future in the church.

“Abusers in the church have figured out that if they are willing to admit partial, limited wrongdoing and if they are willing to perform apology, repentance, and intention to do better,” she said, “behaving in sexually violent ways doesn’t actually diminish their prospects for leadership in the church.

“The church needs a way of understanding sin and violence that enables God’s grace without giving abusers back their power, their access and their good regard,” she said.

Lyell still attends a Southern Baptist church, in large part because of the friendship and support she has received from her pastor and his wife. But her feelings toward the denomination’s beliefs about gender roles have shifted. The convention’s statement of faith says women and men are equal in God’s sight but have different roles in the church and the home.

Today, she feels that belief, known as complementarianism, has created an unhealthy culture. Any criticism of complementarianism is seen as “a sort of gateway drug into theological liberalism.”  

“I think a culture that believes that its righteousness is dependent on preserving and protecting the strictest form of complementarianism is a culture that sees women as a threat, sees women as a risk, sees women as more likely to sin,” she said. “And there were aspects of it certainly that I think is something that an abuser can use.”

Rachael Denhollander, right, with ERLC President Russell Moore, left (Photo Credit: Karen Race Photography)

Abuse advocate and attorney Rachael Denhollander said that Lyell’s story reflects a bigger problem with a complementarian culture that defends male leaders but views women leaders — and survivors of abuse — as “expendable.”

Denhollander, who has represented Lyell, pointed out that it took months for Baptist Press to retract that article. And that retraction happened only after Denhollander had publicly criticized the SBC’s treatment of Lyell during a major conference on abuse in the fall of 2019. She said Lyell had repeatedly asked for the article to be corrected but her requests were denied and a number of Baptist leaders knew the story was wrong but failed to stand up for Lyell.

“Jen came forward at incredible personal cost to herself, to defend those who had no voice,” Denhollander said. “And these men couldn’t even lift a finger when she was defamed and crushed and destroyed.

Denhollander, an abuse survivor whose testimony led to the conviction of former national gymnastics doctor and serial abuser Larry Nassar, said evangelical theology had created a kind of “porn culture” in churches. “Women are seen first and foremost as sexual objects, means to an end,” she said, adding women are seen as temptresses, trying to bring a good man down and getting married is seen as a way of helping men deal with their lust.

After Denhollander’s criticism, Baptist Press issued a statement, saying it had “failed to convey that the heart of Lyell’s story was about sexual abuse by a trusted minister in a position of power at a Southern Baptist seminary.”

“Lyell came to us with an allegation of abuse and should have been cared for throughout the entire process. Instead, for many this incident may have contributed to a perception that the Southern Baptist Convention is not a safe place for sexual abuse survivors to disclose,” the statement read.

Russell Moore, a Southern Baptist ethicist and president of the denomination’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, said the power dynamics involved in abuse have often been misunderstood in evangelical circles. Pastoral misconduct is seen as a moral failing rather than an abuse of power.

“When a pastor or leader is involved in a sexual scandal, the language of ‘affair’ is used, even when it’s a predatory use of spiritual power,” he said. “And for so long, people have been unable to understand those categories.”

Moore said he and his wife are friends of Lyell and he described her as “one of the strongest, most courageous, and brilliant leaders I know.” He hopes she will eventually return to a leadership role in the church.

“Her story has already helped countless other people around the country, in ways that she may not even know about. I think her efforts to call attention to this horrible aspect of abuse are needed.”

Lyell said she no longer trusts the convention, feeling like key leaders betrayed the faith she put in them. It took months for Baptist Press to retract the article and address errors in it — and that only happened after the former BP staff had been replaced and the article had been criticized by abuse advocate Rachael Denhollander.

Lyell urged denominational leaders as well as pastors to recognize the responsibility they have to protect survivors from more harm when they come forward.

“Christian leaders need to remember that they are called to be shepherds in the model of the Good Shepherd,” she said, “protecting the sheep even if the wolves include their fellow leaders.”

Bob SmietanaBob Smietana is a national reporter for Religion News Service.

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38 thoughts on “Jennifer Lyell wanted to stop her abuser by telling her story. Instead, her life fell apart.”

  1. After being sexually abused by a senior clergy member…I went to one of his most trusted ministry leaders to report it. His reply?” So, how did YOU respond?”
    Translated: ” Did you like it?”

  2. It’s terrible that abuse victims are often re-traumatized when they come forward with telling about what happened to them. Jennifer, I am so sorry for your terrible experiences and pray you somehow find peace moving forward. This should not be the case, especially in the church where we are supposed to show love and compassion to the hurt and abused. While it may open a big can of worms, the role that church structures and theology play in such poor responses needs to be a topic of conversation.

  3. As a father my response to this is, let me get this man and break his knee caps, As a Minister of the Gospel my response is let me get this man and break his knee caps, as a missionary my response is let me get this man and break his knee caps. This precious young woman should have been protected and needs to be protected let all the political considerations be set aside.

    1. Mr. Hitching; breaking kneecaps seems to be a bit mild! I completely concur with your procedure against the abuser and assessment of this unfortunate young woman. I pray the Lord will restore her to full emotional health. I myself have two daughters and a lovely granddaughter of seven years old and I can’t even imagine what thoughts would run through my mind if sexual abuse were to occur to any of them, but breaking kneecaps might be a good start!

    2. and what about all the men who wrote and published falseshoods about her and then impotently let her be denigrated in the press & court of public opinion because it would have cost them too much to do otherwise?

      i’d like to see some harsh words.

  4. I would dare Janet Parshall to expose this, but that would happen when hell freezes over. Thanks for all you do.

  5. Retract is misspelled retract(e)”Denhollander, who has represented Lyell, pointed out that it took months for Baptist Press to retracte that article. ”

    I hope that helps. Have a wonderful day.

  6. Did Rachael Denhollander say “that Lyell’s story reflects a bigger problem with a complementarian culture” or is that the author’s own commentary? Abuse and it’s cover up is not a problem unique to any particular theological culture. It is a problem in every culture because every culture is stained with sin. Nothing in the complementarian view of men and women encourages or supports abuse of women and not dealing with it appropriately. You will find abuse in every theological circle because every theological cirlce is inhabited and represented by sinners. If we blame it on a particular theological culture then we are more apt to perpetuate the same sins because we will say it can’t happen here because we’re not (fill in the blank). I’m not justifiying it. But I don’t think we can blame the poor response on a complementarian world view, especially without providing some evidence or justification.

    1. Ian Shearer,

      I agree with you. I wouldn’t agree with Lyell that this is a specific feature of complementarianism–look at Hybels, a progressive “Christian” leader who was also an abusive pervert. Bad apples and tares exist in both traditionalist and leftist “Christian” circles. I don’t think Hybels was motivated by traditional gender roles whatsoever.

      That being said–Lyell was the victim of sexual impropriety, not the other way around. It’s understandable that she has contempt for the whole system at this point and wants to throw the baby out with the bathwater. The SBC good old boy crooks created this situation.

      1. I understatnd if Lyell is distrustful of the SBC or some aspect of it. I’m not taking issue with that. she has every right to feel that way. The author of the article clearly attributes Denhollander as saying Lyells experience “reflects a bigger problem with complementarian culture.” I have read a lot of things about and by Denhollander and I admire her very much. But I have never heard her say or write anything like that. Since the author does not provide a direct quote except the word “expendable” at the end of the statement I am asking if this is really Denhollander’s view or the author’s?

    2. I would have preferred that the author of this article had said, “some denominational theologies“, and not, “And Christian theology about sin and about the roles of men and women often makes it difficult for survivors who come forward.” The author has stated things in such a manner that one would be led to believe that the Bible is the problem, that Jesus’s theology is the problem, or the apostle Paul’s teaching is the problem. Why not just say that God who guided the writing of Scripture by divine inspiration is the problem? Of course, I don’t believe the author really intended to present this idea but I think this shows that the lack of care in his choice of words is apparent.

      1. Agreed. I wish Julie would have clarified. RNS is not known as a bastion of biblical orthodoxy. My heart goes out to those who have suffered at the hands of ministers. This behavior should never be tolerated or allowed to be pushed into the shadows. It’s also misinformed at best and dishonest at worst to equate mistreatment of women with complementarianism. This reflects an utter lack of understanding of the position and the belief system that accompanies it. Ditto with the poor treatment of Aimee Byrd and Beth Moore. There are deeply rooted theological problems with Beth Moore’s teaching. And those problems should be expressed respectfully and carefully. The solution to abuse is not to begin to chuck biblical teaching, but to more consistently apply ALL of the Bible to ALL of life.

        1. Curious Counselor

          Formerly Bob S of RNS has been a Senior News Editor for CT, so I’m comfortable with this article given some of his background.

          Respectfully friends I must disagree…. churches where it is consistently taught that women must submit to deacons, elders, male Sunday School teachers and pastors, obviously sends a message that they are not equals in reasoning and ability to make good assessments and clear decisions. It’s just so troubling for the 21st Century.

          At best, I wish the hierarchical nature of Complemetarianism would be restricted to marriages only.

          RZim- in terms of R’s messages on marriage were clearly hierarchical and that had to have affected his views on the massage therapists.
          They were used to benefit him.

          We’ve got to stop promoting the idea that women are there mainly to support their husbands, keep his gaze at home and bear/nurture children.

          The Proverbs 31 woman was far more diverse in her attentions and intentions.

          1. Submitting to someone does not mean that person in authority doesn’t face the consequences of their actions! Submitting doesn’t equal covering up or enabling. I can’t see that in the Bible at all. It is more like a boss asking your opinions for a business decsision. Once you give it he is responsible for the end results and he will face the consequences. Those that submitt need to let that process play out. Let the chips fall where they may. It doesn’t mean I stop the chips from falling. If we do twist the process then we should face consequences for our part.

            I really don’t think Christian leaders truly understand they will stand before the Lord for their actions and how they guide the sheep. That alone would make it a serious matter! If only they considered that in the equaltion I think many would not be so flippant about their behaviors. I have only heard one Pastor say he took his responsibiliites seriously because he had to stand before God and account for how he lead his flock. Most of our leaders could care less about their flocks these days. A majority of them care more about book deals and becoming millionaires or protecting their brand or the family business. Sad place we are in. You can tell I am agrrevated with this mess.

        2. “This reflects an utter lack of understanding of the position and the belief system that accompanies it. ”

          Brian Dempsey, this reflects an utter lack of understanding that discrimination against women is the unintended consequences of complementarianism. A painful indignity which you are spared and which flies under your radar in lack of awareness.

    3. Ian Shearer and Brian Patrick,

      I guess I’ll be the one to inform you that discrimination against women and favoring men is the unintended consequence of complementarianism.

      Although I could go back to The Chicago Statement and make a case that it in its genesis that was the intended plan. Just dressed up theological language to people would be taken in by it.

      1. On the Other Hand

        The social roles in marriage have always been worked out to promote what was understood as the best interests of men and women, husbands and wives, boys and girls. The exact roles, duties, responsibilities, and expectations have varied down through history, especially influenced by technological advancements.

        The feminism lens is a lie. History is more nuanced and complex. In times past, when women typically bore ten kids, 95% of work was laborious subsistence agriculture, and wars were fought by hand to hand combat, the best interests of the sexes were different in many ways. Exactly how the men and women complement each other is always being renegotiated society-wide, and for Christians additionally within the framework of Biblical teaching. It’s in the nature of things that women bear children. This has driven much of the role negotiation. No children–no future. That men and women are complementary is an elemental reality. Even in gay and lesbian relationships, one takes on a masculine and the other a feminine persona.

        Feminism’s view that the last 10,000 years of history have been one long metanarrative march of the oppression of women by men is false. Yet, so many Christian women have swallowed this nonsense hook, line, and sinker.

        “Men have sacrificed and crippled themselves physically and emotionally to feed, house, and protect women and children. None of their pain or achievement is registered in feminist rhetoric, which portrays men as oppressive and callous exploiters.”

        ― Camille Paglia

  7. I can’t see how any rational Christian would want to remain in the SBC denomination (barring a really good individual local church of course). All denominations have some corruption (cough, C&MA, I’m talking to you, cough) but the SBC really has taken it to a whole other level. This is a cesspool, not a Godly church. And yeah, I agree, Lyell needs to sue the Baptist News.

  8. Here’s the key sentence in the article: “’It takes years and years to recover from trauma, and no one should be in the position of having to explain it to the whole public while they’re still trying to do that,’ she said.” Unfortunately, once a story goes public the reporter’s second-hand version of what one said becomes the working narrative.

    Some thoughts:

    1. When you go to the press, you are engaging the public in the conversation. It’s a hard lesson. To try to complain about it after it’s out in the press is useless. If you don’t want to engage the public, don’t talk to the public via the press.

    2. A better idea is to engage an attorney. Accusing someone of sexual abuse is alleging a felony–serious business. By utilizing an attorney, statements can be made directly with church officials through the attorney while keeping the accuser’s name confidential, if not anonymous. Of course, confidentiality or anonymity won’t be available for a civil or criminal complaint. But the accuser can be in control of how public she or he wants the information to be revealed by using an attorney.

    3. I readily agree that pastors, professors, and other professionals have authoritative and undue influence over those they pastor, teach, or care for–a potential tool for abuse. They need to be held to a high standard. But I think we need to be careful not to have stereotypical blinders on. The element of manipulation also needs to be present.

    Managers and employees, doctors and nurses, officers and enlisted date and marry each other all the time. It is difficult to allege an abusive non-consensual relationship between a 40 year old successful business woman, divorced and back in school to finish her degree and a 39 year old business professor. They are socially, maturity-wise, and experientially pretty much peers. I’ve also known pastors and associate pastors who have fallen in love with staff or church members and eventually got married. Of course, in the church we also have norms of sexual behavior to consider. Generally, the rule of thumb is that once a romantic relationship develops the lesser powerful person should no longer work for or be professionally evaluated or counseled by the more powerful person.

    “You shall not do injustice in judgment; you shall not show partiality to the poor nor give preference to the great, but you are to judge your neighbor fairly.” Lev 19:15 NASB

    4. The more powerful person is not always at fault. I’ve personally known pastors falsely accused of abuse by women for turning down romantic advances–proven by notes, love letters, text msgs, and voice mail..

    1. Curious Counselor

      But she would have been 26 years old in 2004 – a date she reported in her letter – when he first allegedly assaulted her on a Missions Trip, fifteen years earlier.

      And the reason it was considered grooming is because she reports that he already knew of her history of prior sexual abuse.

      When sexual abuse comes early, most times it sets abuse victims up for future abuse … especially if they have not received adequate counseling and help.

      So eventually two years of counseling led her in the right direction to want to protect others, An attorney would have been the wiser and anonymous route.
      But I’m not certain that even at her age she would have really known to do that. Prolonged abuse most often leads to compliant survivors … and least likely the wisest of warriors.

      And folks in SBC church settings are encouraged to unquestionably trust their pastors and/or leadership of Christian institutions … to care for the flock.

      Yet look at how RZim participated in the legal coverup of the Lori Ann Thompson allegations…
      which unfortunately turned out to be true.

      Within the SBC – between the Paige P firing and the Paul Pr sex abuse lawsuit- I believe we’re still only seeing the tip of the iceberg.

      1. For curious counselor:

        I’m sure there is more to be learned from the current story of Jennifer Lyell. My remarks are not aimed at her in particular, but more generally against stereotyping.

        A 26 year old who doesn’t know to contact a professional or attorney to discuss options for reporting sexual abuse, not even calling an abuse line anonymously? Sorry. But that seems far-fetched. Thirty or forty years ago it was believable, not now. From the mid-80’s on sexual abuse has been outed to the public.

        Sexual abuse and its dynamics are so out in the open, written about in youth magazines, taught about in sex education classes, depicted in Lifetime movies at least five times a day, etc. Every second movie today has a plot line that involves a sexually abused woman who is struggling to make her life functional again. Every second clergyman in a movie is a portrayed as a sexual abuser, rapist, or serial killer. All employers conduct training on sexual abuse and harassment in the workplace. I mean is there anyone around the world that hasn’t heard in detail about the Catholic clergy sexual abuse for the last twenty years?

        This isn’t to say that one can’t still be psychologically manipulated by the ruthless and the powerful. But let’s not infantilize a 26 year old women who is fed up and wants to take action. There is no information vacuum on sexual abuse. Every county has a department dedicated to it. A Google search will overwhelm one with information and resources.

        1. Actually, it is totally believable that a 26 year old wouldn’t know the best way to handle this situation. I grew up in the church and read Christian youth magazines as a kid, and never learned anything about sexual abuse in either of those places. Never learned about it in public school, other than maybe some comments about how only doctors and your parents should see/touch certain places. I don’t watch Lifetime movies or movies about sexual abuse, clergy or otherwise. Didn’t learn about reporting sexual abuse while attending a Christian college. In grad school I learned how to report suspected abuse of children, but not how to report abuse of myself should it occur.

          So as a young professional, when I was stalked by a law enforcement officer several years older than me, I didn’t report it officially either. The person on some level could have been considered a peer, but practically, he was in a position of authority over me. And he carried a gun which I did not. I knew i could report the person for sexual harassment in the workplace, but I also knew, given the specific circumstances, that there would be huge fallout for me and others if I did so. I couldn’t report to law enforcement because he WAS law enforcement, and there was no local law enforcement officer on site higher than him. The nature of my
          job meant that I had to work with him from time to time. As far as I knew, I would have had to continue working with him until the complaint had been dealt with.

          So I didn’t report him through official channels. After the stalking escalated into a very scary confrontation initiated by him, I thought of an unofficial channel to use. I unofficially informed another armed person in a position of authority elsewhere, who visited and threatened him behind closed doors. He did back off after that. Older and wiser now, I realize I still should have reported once I was safe to do so. But I was young and just happy it was over, and moved on with my life.

          I mention this situation because I want people to know that not every adult knows how to handle these situations properly. Or, sometimes people know how to report, but don’t because reporting has the real potential to make a bad situation worse. And, there are cases where people do report and those in authority don’t respond appropriately. Larry Nassar wouldn’t be a household name if the many authority figures who were informed of his abuse over the years had responded appropriately.

          Please don’t think abuse didn’t happen because someone didn’t report it appropriately or in a timely manner. There are lots and lots of reasons why cases of abuse aren’t reported by victims quickly and formally. And sadly, there are cases where they did report and it didn’t do any good.

  9. Sad but not surprising. Not judging her decision but I don’t think I would have trusted a man or a Baptist publication with my story.

    1. I understand your comment completely, Carla. I made the mistake of ‘trusting’ 4 pastors and 2 professional counselors, all men, when my man-about-church husband (a Baptist church deacon & men’s teacher) carried on a long-term relationship with one of his employees (to whom he is now married.) Later I learned that several of them, as well as many of my ‘friends’ covered it up. Nope, it’ll be a cold day you-know-where when I go back to a pastor or male counselor for any kind of serious advice.

  10. “Pooler said church members often become “nonprotective bystanders,” whose inaction enables abuse to continue and abusers to go unpunished”
    ++++++++++++++++

    ‘nonprotective bystanders”…. i think he meant passive compliant self-centered can’t-be-bothered-with ethical-inconvenience nitwits, with all the backbone of a sea cucumber.

  11. “…and a number of Baptist leaders knew the story was wrong but failed to stand up for Lyell.”
    +++++++++++++++

    bunch of flaccid moral-impotents

    the self-centeredness is outrageous… all this talk of “Christ-like”… you cared more about yourself, your career, your paycheck, your status, your male peers than you did about what was true and right concerning a woman.

    each one of you is a disappointment of a human being

  12. “Lyell came to us with an allegation of abuse and should have been cared for throughout the entire process.”
    +++++++++++

    gross, who would want to be “cared for” by baptist men. That was a sugary statement meant to pacify the masses so that you didn’t have to say this:

    “We willingly have chosen to believe in a theology which discriminates against women and serves to favor and protect men in their careers, acquisition of power, and needs & wants.

    We don’t have the moral fortitude to say categorically that we lied about Jen Lyell, and instead blame our theology for misleading us — because we are cowards.

    But yes, we were less than truthful.”

  13. I am so sorry for the heartache Jennifer has suffered. As a person who has experienced how harmful the church can be when it fails to act or acts incorrectly, I understand how it wounds your faith, your emotions, your relationships and eventually your health. I pray that God leads her in healing paths.

    On the other hand, we are all fallen creatures; our hearts are deceitful (even to ourselves). We are listening to a he said/she said story. Many people are unaware of the powers of charm abusers possess. How can we know who is telling the truth? These are very difficult situations to deal with.

    1. The perpetrator was eventually confronted and then resigned.

      It is fair to regard such behaviour as an admission of guilt.

      1. The perp should have been fired. That would be on his record as a warning to others. Consequences of one’s actions are about null in our Christian organizations. We just seem to kick the can down the road in hopes that they next guy handles it…. all in the name of grace. Seems like it doesn’t matter what someone does we just pour on grace regardless.

        Christians need to stop giving money to organizations that allow abuse to continue. We need to do more research on organizations and look for red flags. My old church had a Pastor come take the pulpit that was highly recommended from Leaders in our denomination. No one did the hard work of checking his background but rather took the recommendation only. This man only lasted about three months. We opened our morning papers and saw an article about how this guy ripped off two other churches which landed him out of jobs and all his credentials were fake. This same guy went into some sort of “restoration” process and is now heading up another church. Based on all his lies and qauckery he should not be in the pulpit again. His wife was also a part of the game. I believe they should be welcomed back into fellowship with open arms but can’t see where in the Bible we allow him in the pulpit again. He was lying from the pulpit before so he doesn’t even consider it Holy Ground. Christians aren’t even following scripture anymore I guess. It is getting to be a crisis in our churches and ministries. I think people will not want to go to church with all these problems. It will take a whole lot of mental twisting to justify listening to leaders who have red flags following them. I think that is too much work to ask of others.

  14. Reading the article, I was full of compassion for this lady, but when she expressed her position that churches that espouse complementarianism are encouraging sexual abuse, I recognized immediately the ax she has to grind, and the ideology of those who promote her ideas through such articles.
    Why are they not leaving ideology aside when reporting things? Why do I have to read about such abuses and immediately be connected to the feminist propaganda that uses this avenue to poison the waters?
    This is not reporting, this is manipulating things in the direction of feminism… Most of the readers are not aware of this symbiosis created in this article… Daniel Chiu

    1. Daniel, I too was full of compasstion for this lady. It is never easy taking a stand for truth and righteousness in our world. She is brave.

      I have to say also that I think feminism has done very little for women and in fact many feminists really don’t care much about their sisters unless one holds to the herd mentality. I lived overseas for many years and feminists in America are mostly silent about the horrers women go through in other countries daily. They rarely take a stand on their behalf so I have unherded myself from the feminist’s group. I think in the long run this group of feminists has done more harm than good for females. Women should learn to be strong individuals in their own right and use the gifts that God gave them regardless of the group think of feminism. God used many women in the Bible for His plan and purposes. God values all people equally. Humans don’t see others like that I guess.

      I also have a problem with shifting blame when it comes to abusers and their enablers. Abusers will abuse and it is their fault. They are responsible for their own actions and I get really annoyed when the blame gets shifted to something outside of them. These people have some sort of mental problem I believe. The people that cover for them seem to have a vested interest in covering up. They don’t want to be wrong about the person, they don’t want to do the hard work of confronting the person or enforcing consequences, they are scared of some imagined thing, they are making money or presitage off of them or they too are abusers so they don’t see anything wrong with it. They also should be held accountable for their actions. It seems to me that church discipline is all about gone in our groups. Christians only deal with things when it gets to be a crisis. Maybe we in America are just getting lazy. I don’t know.

      I know there are many, many wonderful Christian leaders out there. Perhaps we should learn what they are doing right and uphold those values. We could learn great lessons from them I think. We can teach our girls to be strong, wise and capable individuals. We need to warn our kids that there are predators out there and how to spot them. I believe it all begins with teaching our kids how to handle the realities of our current world.

  15. Like I said it before, I’ll say it again: RNS are NOT known for Christian orthodoxy. RNS might as well be working for Beijing Biden’s Atlantic Council. So, Julie giving them (RNS) a so called “reliable” source of news podium on this forum could come across as untrustworthy…… but it is YOUR website, you can do whatever you want….
    Lawyers: hate them but can’t live without them. Lawsuits make people tremble. Including people in ministry. They don’t care about people being raped/sexually abused? Want to drag them through the floor of “Christian media” and embarrass them publicly?…. Lawsuits is the answer; TOUCH………the pocketbook nerve. TOUCH……….that beautiful house and expensive cars. Reach out and TOUCH…………with lawsuits. They will PAY attention and PAY lots of $!!!.
    Since BLM/ANTIFA are “non operational” (for now) since the stealing of the Elections are over, perhaps they need more $ by PROTESTING in front of their homes?
    How about protesting in front of their businesses….”ministries”?
    March around those places with placards that state “Ministry is NOT above the law!”, placards that say “Read the Roys Report!”. Wouldn’t that call the attention of the pagan/infidel media?
    Just imagine the pagan/infidel media parking their communication vans 24/7 in front of a ministry, in front of those “ministers” homes? Believe me, it would send a message, “a shot across the bow” for not dealing with serious situations like this.

    By the way, those that are wishing bodily harm…….in this forum….watch it…….you could get in trouble with the law; wishing bodily harm, on the internet, for the whole world to see…….not a good idea. Call the police, take them to court, call your lawyer. Lawyers LOVE money and want MORE of it.

    Uwe
    (Jude 3)
    Post Tenebrax Lux

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