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Trillia Newbell: What Should the Church Address When It Comes to Women and Sex, Pornography and Sexual Assault?

Trillia Newbell: What Should the Church Address When It Comes to Women and Sex, Pornography and Sexual Assault?

NASHVILLE — Trillia Newbell, who serves as a consultant for Women's Initiatives at the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, was one of two women at its leadership summit last month to address the dozens of Southern Baptist pastors and church leaders.

Newbell, who recently authored United: Captured by God's Heart for Diversity, caught up with The Christian Post afterwards and shared why she believes the church should talk more about female pornography addiction and how churches should handle sex abuse allegations.

Trillia Newbell is a consultant for Women's Initiatives at the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. | (Photo: YouTube/ERLC)

 CP: What do you think the church needs to talk about more with regards to women and sex?

Newbell: I think there are two things that we make a mistake of assuming: assuming that women are not looking at pornography, so it's rarely talked about in terms of addressing women.

[Second,] there are many women who are suffering, who've been raped and sexually assaulted and have not told anyone because of shame. We need to be aware of that. Churches need to be aware of that.

My prayer is that more and more, women do sin and lust and there really is a struggle and battle of temptation toward sexual sin and so we need to be aware of that, that's whyFifty Shades of Grey is one of the best selling books of all time — it's because it's a draw.

We also need to be aware that the statistics on sexual assault are astonishing. It's about one in six women, or something like that, have been assaulted at some point in their lives. Maybe not raped, but had some sort of sexual assault. So we need to be aware of that and I don't think people are. We need to start addressing this at the church. The church needs to be: this is where people come. Pastors need to start addressing it. Leaders need to start addressing it.

CP: How should churches address allegations of sexual assault or abuse when they are made?

Newbell: There needs to be an understanding that the authorities will be called. The pastors have to take this very seriously and need to express that to the congregation. Authorities will be called. This is not something that we are condoning. Not only will authorities be called — you will be disciplined in our church. It needs to be very clear that it is non-acceptable.

CP: How should churches encourage women to talk about their past experiences with regards to sexual assault, given that in many churches, the majority of church leadership are men?

Newbell: I think a woman can go to another woman, definitely, and should be able to go to their pastor and explain. I think counselors are really important too. I think we need to involve counselors, biblical counselors who can encourage and help and have the training to support women who have been assaulted. I think that's important. And that's where a pastor may not feel equipped, and that's why we thank God for counselors who are going to be more equipped at handling these really hard [issues,] or trauma from sexual assault.

CP: How do we start these conversations in the church?

Newbell: The church needs to be a safe place. It needs to be a place where people can say, "I've done this. I've had this done. Help." It needs to be a place where we can be open and honest about these hard things.

CP: How should churches handle it when someone in their congregation is accused of abusing another member of their congregation?

Newbell: I think they need to take it like the courts would. You're innocent until proven guilty, but they take it pretty seriously. You can be in jail. ... So what I would say is that until it's proven, they need to take the accusations incredibly seriously, especially if its for a child. That person needs to be removed from children until the investigation is over, and restored if everything is clear. It needs to be taken incredibly seriously. So often, it's just not.

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