Yesterday, I read a post on “Sarah Over the Moon” written by, wait for it…, Sarah Moon. It’s titled “When My Abuser is Welcome at the Table, I am Not” and it’s about just who is welcome at the communion table. I’m not sure of the whole story, but obviously Ms. Moon is dealing with some heavy stuff and she’s struggling. That struggle isn’t helped by the insistence of some progressive Christians that her abuser is just as welcome at the table as she is and she should just get over it and forgive them. You know, it never ceases to amaze me the stupid shit that people say in the name of God.
The first thing I thought when I read this is that we good, progressive Christians are just as fucked up as our evangelical brothers and sisters. I find it astounding that intelligent, thinking people believe it’s any of their business when someone else forgives a person who’s hurt them. Forgiveness is intensely personal and you get there when you get there. And, calling someone an “exclusionary fundamentalist” because they don’t want to be around their rapist is mind-boggling. What the hell are they thinking? This is just as bad as telling a gay person that they’re an abomination and will burn in hell for all eternity just because they live as God created them.
Look, I’m all for grace. And, I get that grace is for everyone, even rapists and child-molesters. I even understand that if ever there was a person who needed God’s grace, it’s someone who has committed such a heinous offense. But, forcing victims to relive the worst moment of their lives in the one place they thought was a sanctuary? Not only is that grace-less, it’s abusive in and of itself.
So, what’s the answer? How do we welcome all God’s children to the table without causing more harm to people who, God knows, have been harmed enough already? A good model comes from a comment I saw on Facebook dealing with this issue. It was made by a pastor (who shall remain nameless because I haven’t asked her if it’s okay to use her name) who said “If I were a pastor presiding over communion, and I were faced with this issue, I would absolutely honor the wishes of the survivor over the wishes of the abuser. I would also tell the abuser to find another place to worship if that was necessary”. She also said she would help the abuser find that place.
This is a thorny issue and it’s just one more reason I’m glad I’m not a pastor. Especially since I don’t know how much grace I could show a stranger after finding out they’d done something odious to one of my people. The bottom line is yes, everyone is welcome at the communion table. Maybe just not the same physical table as someone they’ve abused.