Theresa, you and I regularly consult with organizations that are dealing with abuse and trauma. I would like to take the opportunity in this blog thread to look at the issues involved in bringing someone back into fellowship and connection with his or her organization. In this thread I would like to focus on the accused – the perpetrator, or alleged perpetrator.
What should our stance be for restoration? At the end of Second Corinthians, Paul gives them an admonition: “for this reason I write these things while I am away from you, that when I come I may not have to be severe in my use of the authority that the Lord has given me for building up and not for tearing down.” (13:10). It is quite interesting that he uses the word “severe” not only in his use of God-given authority in tearing down, which makes sense, but also for building up. This tells me that restoration is not an easy process. It hints at the reality that restoration for building up can be severe, hard, etc.
In the next verse, Paul, says “Finally, brothers, aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, and live in peace.” (13:11). So, we have an end point to aim for in our work with our people– restoration, which could be a difficult and severe process. But we still aim for it.
Is there a “but” to this? Well, yes. We cannot know with all certainty which events happened, who did what, and whether the accused is truly guilty even if we cannot prove it. We must respect the laws of our land, and we must protect the abused. We must do our investigations extremely well, so that proper and appropriate restoration can occur.
And what kind of restoration do we aim for? For our purposes here, we will look at restoration to relationship, position and location.
Theresa – let’s start with this: what are the circumstances that preclude restoration on one or more of these ways?
Disclaimer: not official legal or psychological advice or opinion