Book Review : We too
We too : how the church can respond redemptively to the sexual abuse crisis by Mary Demuth is a brave book as Mary tackles the difficult subject of sexual abuse. Mary speaks from personal example, academic research and from interacting with abuse victims. The book challenges the church and individuals to respond to victims in a more Christ-like way.
The book is divided into three parts. Part one is understanding our roots and looks at how the Bible describes incidents of rape and how Jesus radically responds to broken people. Mary also looks at how the church, historically and more recently, has dealt with perpetrators and victims.
Part two is about the present situation, both within and without the church and what factors have caused the rise in reported incidents of sexual abuse. Factors like perpetrators being experts at keeping their victims silent; the church not teaching theology well, often focussing on forgiveness without repentance; the silent addiction of pornography that is pervasive amongst church attenders; predators often going undetected in church settings and the church being passive in their responses to reported incidents.
Part three is about our response and what we can do as individuals to help victims. Mary feels the most helpful thing we can do is listen to abuse survivors, believe their stories and pray for them in supportive ways. We have to move away from trying to fix victims and come alongside them. Furthermore, church attenders have to become better at recognising predatory behaviour, calling people to account, seeking justice and supporting victims.
This book could be depressing as the problem is overwhelming and solutions seem small and ineffective, yet Mary has managed to sow a sense of hope throughout the book. Perhaps through her own story and the stories of others who show that the church can make a difference.
Overall a challenging but hopeful read.