Observations on a Broken Trust
In the late 50’s, when I was a teenager growing up in Southern California,
the City of Los Angeles had a curfew law. On Friday and Saturday night,
promptly at 10:00, every television channel in LA would break to an
announcer who would speak the same words and ask the same question: ‘It’s
10:00; do you know where your teenager is?”
Most of the time my parents did or at least they thought that they did. But,
to no one’s surprise, I failed, at one time or another, fully and completely
to disclose where I would be. Of course, I always told the truth before I
left the house just not necessarily all of it. However, on those occasions
when my parents found me out, the fragile thread of trust between us would
be broken. And, not surprisingly, when they set an even stricter curfew
because I hadn’t told all of the truth, my immediate response would be, ‘You
just don’t trust me!” Which, in fact was exactly the case.
It took me a long time to figure out that trust is not an entitlement. It
has to be earned. And even when earned, it can be broken again.
In the opinion of Voices of Orthodox Women, PW has broken trust with the
women of our church by failing fully to disclose how it uses monies that
have been given for mission.
In 1997, $100,000 of PW’s Birthday Offering was given to the Center for the
Prevention of Sexual and Domestic Violence (CPSDV) to create a video series
entitled, ‘Love All That and More.” ‘Love” is a series of three videotapes
(six sessions) that address gender roles, sexuality, dating, relationships,
The series was completed and released in 2001, and was advertised in the
July/August edition of Horizons magazine where they were touted to be an
‘excellent tool for parents or other educators who would like a well-rounded
discussion on dating and love.” As part of the ‘Love” curriculum, the
CPSDV prepared three study guides one for use in secular settings, one for
use by Jewish educators, and one for use by Christian educators. Of the
curriculum, Horizons said, ‘The focus is always on the opportunity to grow
and learn how to seek and develop a mature, respectful and loving
relationship with another person.”
As we see it, the problem with the ‘Love” curriculum is that both the
videotapes and the Christian facilitator’s guide endorse an ethic that
legitimizes heterosexual relationships outside of marriage, along with
bi-sexual and homosexual relationships. In a word, the videotape series
reprises an ethic that used to be referred to as ‘justice love.” However,
in 1991, the 203rd General Assembly meeting in Baltimore, rejected ‘justice
love” when it overwhelmingly refused to adopt a report by the Task Force on
Human Sexuality entitled, ‘Keeping Body and Soul Together.”
For PW enthusiastically to fund and endorse this project no matter how well
intentioned is to go against what they know to be the clear policies and
standards of our church. It is to endorse behaviors that the Bible condemns,
that the confessions of our church rebuke, and that ignore a morality that
has been reaffirmed time and again by our General Assemblies and
The Birthday Offering was begun in 1922. Each year Presbyterian Women
celebrate their birthdays by donating a number of pennies equal to their
age. Historically, the Birthday Offering has been used to fund a long
succession of wonderful mission projects both at home and around the world.
And, the expectation of the women of the church is that their gifts will
continue to be used to uphold and extend ‘the faith once for all delivered
to the saints,” and to minister to the real-world needs of God’s children
around the globe.
So, the question is this how did all those pennies given to fund Christian
mission get invested in a sex-education curriculum that undermines the
policies and standards of the church?
Well, according to The Manual For Presbyterian Women, it is the PW Creative
Ministries Offering Committee (CMOC) that selects the projects to be funded
with the Birthday Offering. This committee is made up of representatives of
the Churchwide Coordinating Team, the Congregational Ministries Division,
the National Ministries Division, Worldwide Ministries, and staff from the
Women’s Ministries Program Area. The decisions made by CMOC are then
reviewed and endorsed by General Assembly staff.
So, to a large extent, it is people whose salaries are paid by the church
who have either actively promoted or passively concurred with the decision
to invest mission monies in a project that chips away at the policies of the
church that they ostensibly serve.
But perhaps even more problematic is the fact that we can no longer assume
that we know what we mean when we use the word, mission. As I said, for most
women of the church mission means extending the Gospel and compassionately
meeting the needs of men, women and children the world around. But, PW
defines the word differently. For PW, mission is primarily advocacy.
Advocacy is ’cause centered,” and usually promotes politically correct
social issues. In this case, the particular advocacy issue is the prevention
of sexual and domestic violence.
Is the prevention of sexual and domestic violence worthy of the support of
Presbyterian Women? Absolutely if it is addressed from a Christian and
biblical perspective. But in the case of ‘Love,” the proposed answer to
sexual and domestic violence is the adoption of an ethic that the church has
officially rejected. What a waste of mission money! What a disservice to the
young people who deserve to hear the truth about how God expects us to use
the gift of sexuality!
Trust has been broken. But, trust can be restored.
Therefore, the Board of Directors of Voices of Orthodox Women calls upon the
leaders of Presbyterian Women fully and completely to disclose how it
intends to invest monies that are given by the women of the church for the
mission of the church. Simply stating that PW has supported the prevention
of sexual and domestic violence is not sufficient. The women of the church
deserve to know the details.
Women of the Presbyterian Church, please ask questions of our leaders.
Demand answers that will allow you to make informed decisions. This is not
institutional disloyalty. Rather, it is to exercise your stewardship
responsibility as a competent and careful member of the church.
Make it your business to know how your mission dollars are used.