A Letter to My Twitter Followers
Some questions have arisen recently about why I do some of the things I do regarding twitter. After much thought and prayer I have decided to give the reasons behind those choices because I know that questions not clearly answered can easily lead to misunderstandings and those can easily confuse or wound vulnerable people. So bear with me (or not) and perhaps it will be helpful to you in thinking through underlying issues.
Some have wondered why I do not respond on twitter. My very first tweet says the following: “I am sorry that due to the nature of my work and the ethics involved in my profession, I am not able to provide individual responses.”
I am a licensed psychologist. As such I have ethical guidelines I am bound to follow. I take those with me wherever I go. Those guidelines are meant to preserve the safety and well-being of those I see and meant to instruct me on what the boundaries are regarding the use of my professional knowledge and skills. For many years, pastors would call and ask to speak directly with me about people I was seeing from their churches. Ethically, I could not even return the call and acknowledge their presence in my office without a signed release. This protected many victims who needed the assurance of safety. It frustrated many who called until they learned the reason for that refusal. Based on these guidelines I find it unethical to provide clinical services on social media. I certainly can speak out, teach principles or express general concerns but nothing personally clinical is to be done via email, texts, twitter or Facebook.
I follow the guidelines. Do they frustrate me sometimes? Certainly. But I have seen tons of damage done by many who function as if they are an exception to the guidelines of their profession, position or, for that matter, God’s standards. Some of you have been victimized as a result of such thinking. Such thinking results in those with power being dangerous to others.
What you do need to know is that I pray for you – often by name when the pain and grief shows up in a tweet. I pray for all – for the whole body of Christ – for she is damaged and damaging His sheep and His name. Some of you personally deal with that damage on a daily basis – in your own lives and/or those you are caring for.
That leads to the second question which is why I use the word “we” in my tweets. There are several reasons for that. Practically, most of the tweets are directly taken from my books, articles or talks. I am simply quoting myself. There are exceptions but that is the source of most of them. A sentence does not tell us context or audience. That is the wonder and difficulty of twitter for everyone. Most of those talks – and much of my writing – have been to the whole body of Christ. There are many in leadership or who are counselors following the account, not just victims. I have been privileged to listen to victims for forty-five years and as a result spoken about abuse to God’s people. From that platform I say “we” not “you” – which would sound as if I were not a part of that body. That body includes victims, perpetrators, deniers and “cover-uppers”. It also includes me though I am none of those things.
The body of Christ seems riddled with cancer today and I am very grieved by that and must confess, sometimes want to turn the tables over and crack a whip. When we find out we have cancer we do not say, “My leg has cancer”. We say, “I have cancer”. If that cancer is not tended it will infect the whole and eventually could kill us. We fight it with our whole body for it is in our body. The cancer of abuse in the body of Christ is certainly not in every individual part making up that body. But it is in the body and all parts are affected and could be infected if it is not destroyed. We are all affected by the failures of the Body to tend to wounds. The arm does not say to the leg, “You have a problem”. The arm says we have a problem and I am willing to take injections for the sake of our body. We all also have a place in that body from which we are called to intercede and speak truth.
Finally, and most importantly, I say “we” because stunningly our Lord says. “we”. It is all through His Word. Moses stood in the gap when the people of God sinned and he had not. Daniel in chapter 9 prayed – “We have sinned and committed iniquity, we have done wickedly and rebelled (he had not)…Oh Lord, to us belongs the shame of face…because we have sinned ((he had not).” It is a powerful prayer. And finally, and most importantly, Jesus, who was utterly righteous, blameless and holy became sin for us, bore our sins, and was punished for our unrighteousness. He became the incarnation of all human failures. He became what He was not so we might become like Him. He had every right to treat us as “them”. He did not. He became one with us. There is no “them” in the body of Christ. One part affects all (I Corinthians 12:26). We are called to follow our Lord knowing full well there is cancer in the body to which we belong and it is spreading and harming us all in different ways. That is why the light needs to shine all on whole body and collectively we need to call thigs by their right name.
So I believe we are to “open our mouths for the mute…open our mouths, judge righteously and plead the cause of the poor and needy” (Proverbs 31:8, 9). We are to speak on behalf of victims. We are to speak truth about those who abuse and the systems that protect them. I also believe that as we raise our voices and name the cancer for what it is, we are called to collectively and humbly pray with Daniel: “…because of our sins and the iniquities of our fathers…your people are a reproach to all those around us…hear the prayer of your servant…and for the Lord’s sake cause your face to shine on your sanctuary which is desolate…O Lord hear! O Lord forgive! O Lord listen and act. Do not delay for your own sake, my God, and for your people who are called by your name” (Daniel 9).