Tony Jones and Julie McMahon: Secrecy and Silence

This is my personal confession of my frustration. Bear with me.

The secrecy and silence around the Tony Jones and Julie McMahon case is deafening. (Please read the comments of that post. You may continue a google search if you want more on the story.)

From the very beginning of this fascinating and sad story, the attempt to silence Julie and her supporters was powerful, scary, and ominous.

Now I fear it has been effective.

As the story gained speed and attention, the attempt to envelop the case in secrecy has been just as powerful. Now I fear it too has been effective. Nothing is being said. Life goes on for Jones. Life gets worse for Julie.

Secrecy for those in power and silence for those who critique it. This is the vision" statement of those in power.

I've claimed since the beginning that this was not about the breakdown of a marriage. I know these are always messy and complicated. This not about that.

For me, it's been about the coverup, the protection of a ministry, and the perpetuation of a movement of so-called leaders and their career goals.

Many supporters of Jones would like you to believe we are taking sides in the breakdown of a marriage so that it makes people like Julie's supporters look sentimental and petty.

I'm painfully aware, even as I write this, that some people will accuse me of baiting readers, gleaning traffic, sensationalizing something private for personal gain, and being trivial and small-minded for selfish reasons.

I must admit I am discouraged.
I'm not so much surprised.

suffer in silence cartoon nakedpastor david hayward

(Click on the image for a digital download of it, or click here!)

By now you should know that I have a strong disdain for authority and the abuses of power that are not only prevalent but more and more acceptable.

I am discouraged because the obvious agenda to silence Julie as well as the obvious agenda to protect Jones with secrecy seems successful at this point.

We love to talk about caring for people. We love to talk about justice. As ideas. But when it comes to the application of these values onto specific situations with certain people, we neglect them and actually defend the abuse of power in the interest of a greater idea, and that's the protection of those in power. Bob Jones University's refusal to change anything in spite of the report from GRACE is just another case in point.

Very few people seem to recognize that the way things are now is typical of the abuse of power.

Some would like to claim that secrecy and silence is appropriate for the breakdown of a marriage. But some see through this smoke-screen for what it is: those in power finding ways to protect the two things they care about most: their reputation and revenue. These twin idols of reputation and revenue remain on the throne, undeterred in their mission to rule over the spiritual lives of everyone.

I'm in a kind of hibernation, waiting for clarity on how to more effectively challenge the principalities and powers that seem to be winning the day.

It saddens me that for some people this is good news, while for a few it is a sad reminder that power prevails.

I need to continue to remind myself daily that even if we lose the battle we can still win the war.

Back to blog

99 comments

It’s everywhere!

Nakedpastor David Hayward

Seems to me that everyone who has a story to tell now a days just writes a book. I think Julie should tell her own story on her own terms. I would buy that book.

SCH

“When I read that ‘God was in Christ reconciling the world’, then I lean towards studying how Jesus reconciled during his earthly life: he spoke his mind, he listened, he showed great respect towards those that sought him, he showed no respect towards those that sought to make profit their conscience, and no respect to those that abused spiritual position or trust.”

This. Is. It.

“Therefore, I have moved far away from the ‘righteous suffering’ model of reconciliation. "

You have been able to articulate exactly where I am in all this. It is shocking how many “religious leaders” are convincing people that to suffer injustice and/or cruelty from another believer will make them more pious or Holy or whatever. They position the “suffering” from such treatment from a fellow believer as a good thing.

Lydia

Tweeted by Rachel Held Evans yesterday:

“I consider defending the dignity of the marginalized part of defending the gospel.”

…except where it might affect book sales.

Can you say “cognitive dissonance”?

Rob Grayson

Hi Luke: you may wish to read my comments above. Bridget and I had a small exchange of thoughts concerning reconciliation. Likewise, Ducatihelo and I had a small exchange of thoughts.

In my opinion, much depends on how a person defines ‘reconciliation’. When I read that ‘God was in Christ reconciling the world’, then I lean towards studying how Jesus reconciled during his earthly life: he spoke his mind, he listened, he showed great respect towards those that sought him, he showed no respect towards those that sought to make profit their conscience, and no respect to those that abused spiritual position or trust.

Therefore, I have moved far away from the ‘righteous suffering’ model of reconciliation. This model normally orders the woman to submit to the man (as their foundational premise). Thus, the husband will listen, make a few changes, and demand she submit to his abuse again.

I also have moved far away from the ‘ignore and avoid’ model of reconciliation. This model normally applies to a church institution, and insists the church say ‘this is none of our business’, and ‘this is best handled by professionals’.

I have already posted my thoughts on person-to-person reconciliation, and its process.

Allow me to offer thoughts on church-institution-reconciliation with individuals and the general community (of believers or non-believers):

I lean towards the following:

The Emerging Church community should condemn the use of legal courts as warfare. Thus, they should condemn the many over-uses of the legal system done by Tony Jones. This can be accomplished author-by-author, and thus, spare their reputations from the charge of having an obvious lack of integrity.

The Emerging Church community should be open to allowing the voices of women that state their abuse. Instead, Rachel Held Evans ‘hid’ a number of comments on her website begging her to have nothing to do with JoPa Group (Tony JOnes is the Jo in JoPa). She hid the voices, rather than take a stand to (at a minimum) simply allow the voices to continue. Therefore, if Rachel Held Evans is too weak to handle this, other Emerging authors should form a joint website that allow such postings. This would ensure that we are allowing all voices to speak and engage in discourse.

[The sad joke has been the Rachel Held Evans is co-leading the ‘Why Christian Conference’… why Christian indeed, in light of her behaviors. However, RHE may have been simply overwhelmed, weak, and frightened by the postings… her husband came to her rescue, as I recall, and announced the ‘hiding’ of FaceBook comments. Other stronger Emerging church authors may wish to come to her rescue and work together to say, ‘never again will we say we are advocates for women, and then hide their pleading’.]

Because the Emerging Church is a loose-knit community, I offer that Solomon’s Church (Tony’s church) should investigate the allegations against Tony. Then, publish their report on the Internet along with the evidences. While Solomon’s Porch has no power to invoke church-based sanctions against Tony Jones, their supplying the evidences to the Internet community, their interviews, and their conclusions, would do much to save their reputation as a non-cultic group. This would be in keeping with ‘making a thorough investigation’ [Deut 18]

The point is not that they ‘take sides in a civil matter’, but that they honor the concept of community, Christ-likeness, honesty and integrity to the believing and non-believing communities.

Equally, because Solomon’s Church is Tony’s Church, they should condemn law warfare. It is my opinion that Tony Jones is engaging in law warfare (based on the number of cases/motions he has introduced to the courts against Julie McMahon, his first wife). After condemning the use of law as warfare, then Solomon’s Porch should pay for any future defense needed by Julie, or needed in the future by other people or organizations. This would be in keeping with ‘bear one another’s burdens and thus keep the law of Christ’ [Gal 6]

Sincerely; Caryn

Caryn LeMur

Leave a comment