Recently, I discussed the very disturbing topic of abuse in Christian homes. Overall, the feedback I received from listeners was very positive-many expressed their gratitude that we would speak about such a difficult but important issue. Others, however, were distinctly uncomfortable that we aired two commentaries on the subject.
I certainly didn't set out to make anyone uncomfortable, and I definitely don't want to sensationalize what is a painful subject. But at the same time, I believe we Christians do neither ourselves nor the cause of Christ any favors when we try to sweep bad behavior under the rug.
Every time we do this, the truth tends to come out anyway, and we always look worse for having tried to hide it. And, worst of all, in the process, we often fail to protect the "least of these"-the innocent victims who need our help.
Still, some ways of dealing with tough topics can be easier to handle than others. Sometimes we can learn as much about a topic through the arts-movies or theater or a good novel-as we can by reading a study or a newspaper. Mary DeMuth's new novel, Daisy Chain, which is published by Zondervan, is a good example.
DeMuth is a Christian and an award-nominated novelist whose books often deal with issues of abuse. Yet at the same time, they intertwine themes of grace and hope. Daisy Chain tells the story of a young boy named Jed who's struggling with both his best friend's disappearance and his father's abuse. On the surface, Jed's father looks like the model pastor and family man. Only his wife and children know what happens at home when his rage spirals out of control.
DeMuth herself is a survivor of a different kind of abuse, having been molested as a child. Her goal in writing about abuse, she once said in an interview, is "to show folks two things: That God can heal even the most horrific abuse. And to educate parents and professionals about abuse."
I'm not a big fan of "message" books, where the writer neglects his or her craft and just concentrates on pushing an agenda. But Mary DeMuth is not that kind of writer. Her books are beautifully and sensitively written, and her characters are realistic and well-developed. She has a true gift for showing how God's light can penetrate even the darkest of situations, and start to turn lives around. Even her villains are not beyond the reach of God's grace.
Perhaps one of the characters in Daisy Chain puts it best when she tells Jed, "Sometimes parents don't act right. Sometimes . . . they flat-out do the wrong thing. If you let them wallow in that sin, don't oppose it, you're not really loving them, are you?"
I feel the same way. Ignoring the problem of abuse in Christian homes is failing to show God's love to both abusers and victims.
If you want to learn more about a Christian perspective on the subject, visit BreakPoint.org and click on this commentary to find out how you can buy your own copy of Daisy Chain.
It may not be your typical light summer reading, but it might help change your whole perspective on Christians' responsibility to the silent sufferers among us.