Earlier this week, a young man in Atlanta shot and killed eight people in massage parlors, 6 of whom were of Asian descent, and 7 were women. His reason? He struggled with sex addictions and wanted to cut off his temptation. This reminds me of Genesis 3:12,
“The woman you put here with me…”
When he should have practiced Matthew 5:29,
“ If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away.”
First, allow me to make some clarifications:
- I’m a Christian who loves Jesus, loves His church, and regularly attends my church home.
- I’m not saying this is a male-only problem.
- I’m not here to justify the shooter’s actions based on possible problematic church teaching or absolve him from crimes.
- As is typical with abusers, this man used terms to explain, minimize, or justify his behavior at the time of his arrest, stating it was a temptation he wanted to eliminate because of his sexual addictions.
- Mental health also needs to be brought into this discussion.
- The church is responsible for sound teaching. It is not responsible for how people respond.
- Mentally unwell individuals are more prone to take teachings to an extreme.
- I don’t believe there is any single church that correctly understands and applies all of scripture.
- This topic is not an SBC only topic.
- The Asian massage parlor/spa workers and innocent bystanders are victims.
Over the last three years, I’ve witnessed the Southern Baptist Convention use their public platform to give lip service, and only lip service, to the plight of abuse victims. But, bring up a woman teaching men, a woman asked by the leadership of the church to give a Mother’s Day message, a pastor admitting to voting for a democrat, or talk about racism within the church, and you will immediately hear of policy reform and see quick action. The SBC will respond if the issue matters to the men in charge. Typical par for the course in many denominational and non-denominational churches and Christian institutions.
Sadly, the young man who committed the shootings this week belonged to an SBC church that is part of the Founders Ministry, the most vocal group in the SBC against victims, advocates, and those working to heal all aspects of the body of Christ/the church due to abuse in its ranks.
The Atlanta shootings cause me to remember the teachings in many Christian circles, especially the homeschooling movement, that girls/women are the dangerous cause of men’s temptations and lust. Sexual purity, taught mainly to girls, has been taught from pulpits, classrooms, conferences, and books.
Certainly, the premise that girls cause men to lust and sin isn’t scripturally accurate. Women are not responsible for a man’s thought-life/sin.
The book “Every Man’s Battle” by Arterburn and Stoeker portrays women as nothing more than objects that likely caused their husbands to use porn. Then it tells wives to be sexually available to their husbands to help them overcome their porn addictions. Depraved illustrations throughout the book are numerous. Some of the text is disturbing and treats women as objects/property for the man’s sexual needs with no regard to love, intimacy, or reciprocation. The beautiful relationship of husband and wife depicting the relationship of Christ and the church is missing. Never mind that a large percentage of men go into the marriage relationship already addicted to porn. Wives taking responsibility for their husband’s sin is not found in the gospel. Nonetheless, many in the Christian community have read this book. A closer read will find more erroneous teachings that don’t square with scripture.
Demeaning Soul Care
Women and advocates have been raising their voices for years about sexual abuse in the church while treated with disdain as if we are poison to the system and getting in the way of real ministry. If we open the scriptures, we find Jesus in the mess with the hurting, bleeding, possessed, diseased, dying, dead, and the outcasts because that’s the ministry He came to do and teach His followers. Caring for the least and those who cannot speak for themselves is part of the ministry of under-shepherds of Christ.
My plea to pastors, teachers, and leaders, is your words and actions matter. The church must do a better job teaching about sexuality in a healthier way—the culture you create in your church matters. You have the power of Jesus and scriptures to minister to this generation.
Yet, there are many women who unstable men have murdered. Women beaten or killed by acts of domestic violence because the church told wives to stay, pray, be more attentive, give him more sex, be more encouraging. NO AMOUNT of praying and kindness can make an angry and controlling abuser be nice. It isn’t a relationship problem; it’s an abuse problem.
This massage parlor shootings leave me heartbroken that a young man from a Christian family and an SBC/Founders church committed this violent act against mostly women in minority settings. All life has worth, and it’s the church’s responsibility to teach this correctly.
Finally, I’m not saying the church is responsible for this man’s murderous actions. But, sexism, entitlement, porn, dehumanization, domestic violence, loss of discernment, and abuse of power are all problems in secular society and in the church.
Are we showing ourselves to be set apart? We call ourselves Christians, but are we Christ-like? Do our teachings reflect the heart and ministry of Christ?