Restrictions on Abusers and Predators

Restrictions on Abusers and Predators

Return to our Way of Life

Let us take great care to build and protect the spaces we meet in. This care requires us to be aware of those who have abused or preyed on others. Part of their repentance will include their rejection of power and prestige. Across Urban Monastics, they are not allowed to be in leadership or to make any decisions.

Everyone is welcome to be an Urban Monastic. For each of us, there will never be a shortage of God’s grace. We will never have to choose between this sin or that sin being covered in divine grace. Part of the wonder of the cross is that our Lord Jesus has overcome sin and death. As we receive our salvation, the fullness of our sin is forgiven by God. All we have done, are doing, and will do is forgiven. We are forgiven for the sins we know about, and for those we are blind to.

Being restored and redeemed by God is wonderful. It defines our lives and welcomes us into an eternity with God. Let this be absolutely clear: there is no sin that cannot be covered by the body and blood of Christ.

Church leadership must be held to a high standard of behavior and character. Being invited to serve in the Church is a high honor. It is a high calling to be set apart to care for the people of God. This calling should be held with reverence and esteem. Its reverence is why certain behaviors can permanently disqualify people. No one should be disqualified for who they are, but they may be for what they have done.

There are voices that want to confuse the church. Voices that want to conflate one’s restoration with God into restoring predators into ministry. This is wrong. Those who violate the autonomy of others will not be restored to our leadership. There are other vocations and places in our world for them to work and contribute. The Church and Ministry are not among them.

This is how we apply this reality within Urban Monasticism: abusers and predators are forbidden from leadership and decision-making. This includes anyone who has been responsible, convicted, or reasonably accused of abuse or assault. They are expected to disclose their past to the leadership of Urban Monastics. For everyone in leadership, this information will become common knowledge and accessible. As an organization we will support these individuals by guiding them down the path of meekness and humility. These individuals are welcome to participate in silence. These individuals can never hold a position locally or globally. They are forbidden from making decisions of any size within Urban Monasticism.

Repentance begins when the Spirit gives us a clear understanding of the harm we caused. This clarity meets the grace of God that covers our sins. Through the freedom of forgiveness we can share this understanding with others. We accept that our actions may place restrictions on us in the future.

So what does repentance look like for those who violate the autonomy of others? What does it look like for those who use their power to harm people? How do these people now respect and honor the autonomy of everyone else? They must do two things. First, they must reject any power over another person. Second, they must enjoy the abundance of God’s grace through their humble silence. We do not believe that their silence (spoken and written) hinders the Church of Jesus. There is more than enough wisdom and beauty within the Church without their words. It would be an undeserved mercy of God for them to be welcomed into a community. To have a welcome extended with the full knowledge of their harm. A community may welcome you to be present in silence. Many predators will not find this agreeable with the image they have of themselves.

In keeping with the spirit of this rule, here are some final notes. Survivors can have their abusers excluded. Anyone who fails to self-disclose their behavior is to be excluded. It is their willful deceit that is also their choice of exclusion. We have the right to make public disclosures. These are made due to our shared responsibility to the whole people of God.

The restrictions within the rule apply to three kinds of abusers. First are those who have been legally liable. Second are those who were found responsible for abuse by any other organization. The final category is for those reasonably accused. Far too often, abusers avoid any accountability or consequences for their harm.

Invitations to Engage

  • How do we create environments that promote the healing and restoration of those who have been harmed?
  • What ways have the teachings and perspectives of predatory people infected our beliefs and practices?
  • Where are the safe environments or people that allow you to more easily find yourself in God’s presence?
  • How do you understand the privilege and honor of those set apart to care for God’s people and Church?
  • God honors your autonomy. Reflect on how God’s gift of grace was given to you and waited for you to openly accept it.
  • Reflect on any predators who may be a part of your life. What kinds of boundaries may you need to put in place to allow for your flourishing with God, and for them to grow in humility?
  • Are there Christian communities you are a part of that have unrepentant abusers or predators in leadership (formal or informal)? How does your continued involvement support survivors to experience the tender presence of God in the midst of these dangerous people?
  • For those in leadership: How do our responses to abusers and predators reflect the care we are to take for the people of God? How are we helping abusers and predators experience accountability, humility, and repentance?
  • For Abusers and Predators: Seek out counseling for your behavior, pursue wholeness of understanding why you abused, and how you may be able to break cycles of violence.
  • For Abusers and Predators: Reflect upon your journey into meekness and humility. How does this endless journey into powerlessness feel? What has been transformative for you?
  • For Abusers and Predators: How do you fully accept the forgiving grace from God while respecting the autonomy and lack of contact of your victims?

Meditations on this Rule