Dear church, you have always been there for me. It must have been easy for you as I am a straight white male. Over the past few years, as I have spent time with friends who are not straight, who are not white, and who are not male, I have discovered how you have not shown them the same accommodations I received. I thought my experience was normal because the bible directs us to love without discrimination and to heal the brokenhearted. The church's mission is a ministry of reconciliation, to be a refuge for those who are hurting, a triage for the sick, and a beacon of light for the lost. True religion is one which protects the orphan, the widow, and the immigrant. Dear church, you have failed.

During the past few years, the world has witnessed multiple women's movements. In response, you have either been silent or defiant. When social media exploded with stories and personal accounts concluding with the tag #YesAllWomen, many guys - especially those within the church reacted badly. They dismissed this trend, humiliated the victims, and posted their own defense of #NotAllMen. The day after Donald Trump's inauguration, millions of women gathered to march in protest in dozens of American cities. A year later, there were more women's marches held in more cities with greater attendance. In both events, the church was largely absent. You showed up after the fact and only then as a critic. With recent causes like #MeToo, #ChurchToo, and #TimesUp, you continued to act with judgement and criticism. Dear church, your actions condemn you.

What you have done makes sense to me. I was raised at the height of purity culture when the bestselling Christian book was 'I Kissed Dating Goodbye.' My generation was taught modestly dressed girls were the only way to prevent a boy's hormonal urges because boys were not responsible for their insatiable sexual desires. Talking about sexuality was taboo and anything outside of puritan norms was condemned. You instilled in us a sense of shame around sex, even if it was consensual. You preached standards with little to no biblical basis and abandoned us with unhealthy images of ourselves, romance, dating, marriage, and intercourse. Purity culture was the logical result of generations of patriarchal dominance. Taken to its furthest extent, these beliefs led to a world where rape and sexual assault is justified and the victim is labeled as a liar or a slut. Dear church, you are at fault.

Even the author of 'I Kissed Dating Goodbye' admits he got it wrong. He recognizes the damages he caused. You still treat the book like it's sacred. Dear church, you have contributed to the trauma many women have experienced because of the shame and guilt you taught them to feel.

The cost of toxic masculinity is becoming more and more apparent. You warn us about hedonistic secular culture, yet you contribute to one of its greatest flaws: the objectification and exploitation of women. One by one, vile men are losing their positions of power as their previous deeds of rape or sexual assault are becoming public knowledge. From politics to sports to entertainment to industry, victims continue to come forward and reveal the depravity of those we once respected. These accusations of sexual misconduct even reach into the church. Dear church, you are not innocent.

20 years ago, while a youth pastor in Texas, Andy Savage sexually assaulted a high school student who attended his church after he offered to give her a ride home. Following his crime, he begged her to keep it secret. When she reported it to the church's associate pastor, he didn't report it to the police. Instead, he ordered her to remain quiet so the church could deal with it internally. Savage was never criminally charged; he is now the pastor at a megachurch in Memphis. A few weeks ago, he admitted to his church there was a "sexual incident" between him and a minor. His congregation gave him a standing ovation. Dear church, you are an accomplice, you share the offender's guilt.

Last week, Rachael Denhollander testified at the sentencing trial for Larry Nassar. Nassar was the physician convicted of sexually molesting more than 150 girls over the last three decades. For more than 30 minutes, Denhollander delivered a beautiful gospel filled plea for justice. While watching it, I wanted to applaud her and weep on her behalf. Halfway through her speech, she described the cost of her bravery, detailing cost of speaking truth. She lost her friends, her privacy, and her church. She lost her church because she leveled legal charges against her abuser. Dear church, you are supposed to be a safe place for victims. You should have loved and supported Denhollander amid her crisis, instead you shunned her and turned her away. Dear church, you are guilty of a dereliction of duty.

This needs to stop. It’s time for the church to stand up and be the church. It’s time for the church to protect the victims and not the abusers. We need to quit pretending our own indiscretions don’t exist. We need to repent and accept the consequences when appropriate. Then we need to sit down, shut up, and listen. For generations we have silence women – often when feminine voices were needed the most. Dear church, it’s time to give them back their voice.

Lucky for you, we have no shortage of intelligent and articulate women. Beth Moore, Rachel Held Evans, Anne Lamott, Ann Voskamp, Jen Hatmaker, Bernice King, Glennon Doyle, and so many more. Dear church, hand them a microphone then get out of the way. You might not like what they have to say but what you want to hear no longer matters. You are culpable and your time is up.


  1. Very well written. I'm seeing the so called purity culture begin to fade in prominence, but unfortunately many churches still treat sexuality as some wierd taboo topic....or of its spoken of the context is the home, family, and often reinforcing political minded gender roles. People really need to be reading Song of Songs a bit more...:) And taking lessons from Rahab, and the called singlehood of the disciples...etc etc