I’m thinking more about the IFB rhetoric surrounding Ernie Willis’ trial. As I stated here, the majority of the discussion in IFB circles centered around the idea that no “sides” should be taken on the matter.
If you’ve read much from or spoken much with those within the IFB, you’ll find that the call for “neutrality” in these situations is strong. There is significant pressure to remain neutral:
- until “all the facts come out”
- because “we will never know all the facts”
- because “the truth is probably somewhere in the middle”
- because we wouldn’t want to ruin a good man’s life by believing a false accusation
- because we would want others to give us the benefit of the doubt if we were being accused
That all sounds reasonable, doesn’t it? That tone of reason is part of the problem. It hints at a view of ourselves that we’d like to maintain (that we are intelligent and reasonable) and it subtly encourages us to react in the way the speaker wants us to (to not do or say anything).
Too many Christians have accepted the claim that “neutrality” is the proper, Christian response in abuse cases. I’d like to suggest that Christians should emphasize fairness rather than neutrality.
I believe that Christians who desire to be fair should seek to mitigate the power differential that is inherent in abuse. Only by supporting the abused, so that s/he does not remain at a disadvantage, can fairness be achieved. Neutrality (taking no position) allows the powerful person to retain his power and place of advantage within the situation and within the community. Christ championed the underdog. Christ told us to support the weak and the fatherless. Supporting the weak and the fatherless requires ACTION, not the INACTION inherent in neutrality.