Rid of My Disgrace Interview

June 11, 2011

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BCC Author Interview Q & A with Justin and Lindsey Holcomb

As part of our BCC vision, we want to help you to get to know gifted Christian authors and their books. This week we’re highlighting Justin and Lindsey Holcomb as they talk about their book Rid of My Disgrace.

BCC: “What is the one impact you long for most of all with Rid of My Disgrace?”

JH/LH: “The disgrace that results from sexual assault has a way of grinding people down and heaping huge burdens on them. Because of it, people feel lonely, filthy, worthless, repulsive, hopeless, and unwanted. Our hope is that God will use the clear Gospel message of the book to eliminate that disgrace and its effects. What victims need is for God to be strong when they are weak and to be close to the brokenhearted. We want people to experience God fulfilling His promises to them. We pray that God uses the book to apply the grace from Jesus deeper than the wounds people have experienced.”

BCC: “What is the overall purpose of the book?”

JH/LH: “We wrote this book for the many victims of sexual assault, both male and female, to offer accessible, Gospel-based help. They need the kind of hope and healing that only the Gospel of Jesus Christ can provide. For many years we have ministered to victims who want and need a clear explanation of how the Gospel applies to their experience of sexual assault and its effects in their lives. Our goal is to provide victims with a compassionate and hopeful resource to help them move toward healing. To victims, who know too well the depths of destruction and the overwhelming sense of disgrace, we want to communicate this message of grace:

‘What happened to you was not your fault. You are not to blame. You did not deserve it. You did not ask for this. You should not be silenced. You are not worthless. You do not have to pretend like nothing happened. Nobody had the right to violate you. You are not responsible for what happened to you. You are not damaged goods. You were supposed to be treated with dignity and respect. You were the victim of assault and it was wrong. You were sinned against. Despite all the pain, healing can happen and there is hope’ (Rid of My Disgrace, p 15).

Also, we wrote this book to help equip pastors and ministry staff as well as family members and friends of victims. As they read what we are saying to victims, we hope they learn to respond and care for victims in ways that are compassionate, practical, and informed. Tragically, many churches and Christians are woefully unprepared to help those have been assaulted. Worse still, many Christian leaders (including parents) are ignorant of this epidemic because ashamed victims are reluctant to simply declare what has been done to them, and untrained leaders do not recognize the signs of sexual assault or know how to lovingly ask questions. So many parents, spouses, ministers, and friends are looking for solid, Gospel-based information that would be helpful in serving victims. Informed supporters are very important for the healing process for victims. Much of the literature on sexual assault employs self-help approaches that do not offer the full-orbed good-news of the Gospel—that it is God’s one-way love replacing self-love that is the true path to healing.”

BCC: “How do you define sexual assault?”

JH/LH: “Sexual assault is any type of sexual behavior or contact where consent is not freely given or obtained and is accomplished through force, intimidation, violence, coercion, manipulation, threat, deception, or abuse of authority.”

BCC: “What experiences in your life helped you to write Rid of My Disgrace?”

JH/LH: “Our experience in the area of abuse, personally, professionally, and pastorally, led us to write this book. In writing Rid of My Disgrace, we combined our experience of counseling victims with biblical and theological studies and with up-to-date academic research.

When Justin was twelve, he was assaulted by a member of his extended family. So, he knows personally what victims are experiencing. Justin has served in ministry for almost twenty years and has counseled numerous victims of sexual assault. He has taught theology at Reformed Theological Seminary since 2001. Before coming to Mars Hill Church, Justin also taught courses on sexual violence in the Sociology and Religious Studies departments as well as in the Studies of Women and Gender program at the University of Virginia.

Lindsey has served for years both counseling victims of sexual assault and training leaders to care for victims. Before coming to Mars Hill Church, she worked at a sexual assault crisis center where she provided crisis intervention to victims of assault and conducted a variety of training seminars to service providers. Lindsey also worked at a domestic violence shelter. Many of the women she served were also victims of sexual assault. Her graduate research was on sexual violence and public health responses. Also, Lindsey is currently a student at Reformed Theological Seminary, working on a MA in Theological Studies.”

BCC: “How is your book different from other books on this issue?”

JH/LH: Rid of My Disgrace is biblically and theologically robust. It’s not a self-help book. What victims need are not self-produced positive statements but God’s statements about His response to their pain. In avoiding platitudes, suspicious questions, and shallow theology, we combine practical victim advocacy, biblical and theological depth, and up-to-date academic research.

Rid of My Disgrace is also unique because it is offers radical grace and accessible Gospel-based help, hope, and healing to sexual assault victims, both female and male. Most Christian books are written for survivors of childhood sexual abuse, which is a sub-category of sexual assault, and there is very little written for those that experience sexual assault in their adult years. The child abuse books do not encompass the whole age range of experiences for adult sexual assault. Also, a book was needed for both men and women. Most books on sexual assault are written for women. But the truth is that there are many more male survivors then most people know about. Rid of My Disgrace is written for men and women and child and adult victims of sexual assault. There are many non-Christian books that are very good at describing the effects of sexual assault, but offer weak suggestions regarding healing.  By not believing the Gospel, they advocate self-love and self-affirmation and miss grace—God’s one way love, the unconditional love of God—which is the only thing that gets to the depth of the devastation of sexual assault. Eventually, self-love turns into nihilism. Our book places God’s radical grace and redemption of sin and its effects front and center and responds to the survivor’s experiences, pain, and needs from that perspective. Survivors need to hear about Jesus and how he responds to their pain and past. They need to hear repeatedly that their story does not end with the abuse or assault. Their life was intended for more than shame, guilt, pain, and denial. The abuse does not define them or have the last word on their identity. Yes, it is part of the story, but not the end of the story.”

BCC: “Thank you, Justin and Lindsey. It has been great to learn more about your Gospel-centered approach in Rid of My Disgrace.

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