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I'm Chris Hughes. I'm so honored that you listen to us each and every day on your favorite radio station. If you're not aware, this is released in podcasts later today. And today's show is going to be an incredible show.
It's the kind of show you're going to want to listen to again, and you're going to want to listen to again. You're going to want to download the podcast and share it with your friends on social media, because it's an important topic. And our topic today is going to be the issue of sexual abuse, and specifically what's happening within the Southern Baptist Convention, which is the largest Protestant denomination in the world today. There's a lot of turmoil in the Southern Baptist Convention, and this week, as this show is airing, as a matter of fact, later today, the convention begins right in Anaheim, California. And this is an issue that's going to be talked about for the next couple of days at our annual meeting here in Anaheim. So I want you to be sure to pay attention and listen, because the information given is not just going to apply to what's happening at the convention today, but what's happening in your church, no matter where your church is around the country or around the world.
So please listen and share with your friends. Before we get started, I want to thank our sponsors, the Citizens for America Foundation, for making this their official show and for hosting us. And if you want to learn more about what's going on in the culture, how you can develop a biblical worldview, I encourage you to visit citizensforamericafoundation.com. That's citizensforamericafoundation.com, where you can sign up to get emails and insights. And they don't flood your box with a ton of emails, but when something important is happening, they let you know they have a lot of webinars and other information, a lot of great events they put on across the country. As a matter of fact, in just a couple of weeks, I'm going to be leading a tour for them to Washington, D.C., where you can learn from a Christian perspective about the American heritage of our nation and how our nation was founded as a Christian nation. If you want to go on the trip, visit citizensforamericafoundation.com, click events, and you can get all the information about that trip and our trip to Israel coming up on December 26.
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Go to mabts.edu, that's mabts.edu, and learn more about Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary. Well, today we have a topic that is a painful subject because it affects so many people in the country today. One out of every three women and one out of every four men have been sexually abused in some way, shape, or form in our country today. And that means when you're sitting in church, if you look to the left of you and to the right of you, one of the three of you has been sexually abused. And it's a wake-up call that the church really needs to pay attention to. Our guest today has written a great book called Wounded and Defined, and it's a book that addresses these issues of going from a victim to a victor. And that's what we can do through Jesus Christ, is we can find victory even in terrible situations in our lives. And I'm so honored to have my dear friend, Tanya Shellnut, join us today to talk about this very difficult issue. Tanya, welcome to The Christian Perspective. Well, thank you so much, Chris, for having me. I really appreciate it, and I'm honored to be with you all today.
Well, thank you. And this is a difficult topic. It's a topic that hits close to home to you. But before we jump into that, I always like our listeners, Tanya, to get to know our guests kind of in a little more personal way other than just the topic we're talking about. Can you kind of tell us about your life, your family? You've got exciting things going on with your son coming up in the future. Tell us a little bit about who you are and what you're doing.
Sure. So my husband, Rich, and I have been married for 27 years. Coming up here in July, we have five children, very blessed, ages 26 to 15. I am the Senior State Government Relations Director for Alliance Defending Freedom, the world's largest religious liberty organization. And I work with legislators and coalition groups across the country to try and make sure we have generational wins from a legislative perspective. And as a mom, just busy, as you said, we have a son who's going to be heading over to the Citadel in August.
Our oldest daughter actually works in Washington, D.C. She is a Director of Government Relations as well, and my husband owns his own company. And yeah, we're just very active in our community and love the church, and we're just excited for what God's doing. I know that you mentioned you work with Alliance Defending Freedom, and I didn't realize until yesterday I was reading, and it had nothing to do with you.
I was just reading something else, and I didn't realize they were the largest in that field. And y'all just do tremendous work, and I thank you so much. You're on the front lines every single day. And you and your husband, Rich, have done a great job of raising kids who understand the need to be engaged in the public arena, engaged in the communities. And I just appreciate you doing that. I love to see when parents train their kids to impact the culture for Jesus, and you guys have certainly done that. Well, Tanya, I'm going to ask you another thing. There are people out there, Tanya, who are listening who may not be Christians. Or maybe we have some Christians out there who don't share their testimony with other people. And testimony is just simply what Jesus has done in our lives for us. And so some people have had these dramatic conversions where maybe they were drug addicts or killers on death row or whatever it may be. And then there are people like me who grew up in a Christian family, got saved at an early age. And I let God use that excuse of me not having one of these dramatic, you know, I couldn't write a book, I thought, about my testimony. But you know, really, it is dramatic for all of us, because no matter what the situation, God changed us from being a sinner condemned to go to hell through the saving grace of Jesus Christ. We now know that we can have eternal life with Him in heaven one day. So do you mind sharing how you came to know Jesus and how God touched and changed your life?
Absolutely. And it'll actually interweave with much of what we're talking about today, but I didn't grow up church. In fact, my birth father left when I was six months old. My mother married an alcoholic, and I grew up in an alcoholic home. And part of most of my story started, it was very tumultuous and a very rough upbringing with a lot of, well, I should say with a lack of supervision, I was pretty much allowed to just do whatever I wanted. I ended up as a result of the story that we're going to talk about today. I started drinking when I was in sixth grade, and alcohol was a choice for me for coping, because it's what I saw in my home.
That's what my adoptive dad did. So I thought, well, that's what you do to hide pain. And so when I met my husband Rich, he said to me, he said, Tanya, do you think that you have a drinking problem? And I said, I don't think so.
I'm pretty good. And I went to a counselor and did an intake test, and it did reveal that, in fact, I did have a problem. And so they recommended that I be inpatient for 30 days. And so I went to treatment, and I got sober. And I've been sober for 27 years, actually 28 years in November.
And I didn't come to no price in treatment. I just had learned about the higher power and all of that. But then when I—my husband's family is all from South Carolina.
I grew up in Montana, and in Montana there's a bar on every corner and just not a lot of a strong faith community. And so my husband and I were getting ready to move to Charlotte, North Carolina on August 23, 1997. And I was at work, one of my last days of work, and I got a phone call from my adoptive dad, and he said, Tanya, you need to come home right now. And he was very upset, and I knew something was really wrong. I ended up losing my mother in a horrific motorcycle accident, and she died. And my mom and I were very close. And so that day our stuff had gotten on the moving van to come to Charlotte, and I had lost my mom. And so as we made our way to Charlotte, my husband said, Tanya, we're going to start going to church.
And I was like, okay, what does that look like? And so we had visited a couple churches. And one day I called into a Christian radio station that I just happened to be listening to, and I asked him, I said, hey, I'm looking for a church.
Do you have any suggestions? And the guy kind of laughed, and he's like, well, I've never gotten that question before. And so he invited me to Hickory Grove Baptist Church, his church. Yes, I've been there.
Yeah, yep. Dr. Joe Brown was preaching that day. And when he gave an altar call, and my husband and I went forward and gave our life to Christ, and that began my road to recovery and with my relationship with Jesus. Yeah, so that's where it all started. Wow, Tanya, I didn't know that about you, and that is such a powerful testimony because very few adults, as you know, come to know Jesus.
I mean, usually they're younger. So for both you and your husband to get saved on the same day, and I don't want to pry too much, but was just the Holy Spirit moving in you? Was it a powerful sermon, or what happened?
Yeah, absolutely. So we had visited, like I said, a few other churches, and when we went there, I think he was talking about Nehemiah. I don't even actually remember what the sermon was about, but he just gave this altar call, and we both just were like, oh yeah, this is where we need to be, and we ended up getting baptized together. And it was so interesting because, you know, that night, back then, they had visitation, right? So these two gentlemen show up at the door with, you know, a plate of cookies, and I'm like, why are you here?
I didn't know that's what they did. And so they came to the door, and they brought their cookies, and they invited us in, and that began the mentoring process, and loving on us, and genuinely showing me the hands and feet of Christ and what it looked like. There's so many stories behind that, but God just really began to do a work. And you know, when you're in Sunday school class with people, and you don't know where books of the Bible are, and I remember specifically, they were studying Nehemiah, and nobody laughed at me, because I didn't know where Nehemiah was in the Bible. They just, you know, said, oh, this is where it is, and they helped me along.
And you know, I was naive too, but I asked a lot of questions, and I think that was really helpful. That is such a neat story, and I don't know that I've ever had anybody come on where the husband and wife got saved at the same time. That had to be such an interesting time for you and Rich, as you grew together, and you grew in the Lord together, and did he have a church background too, where he didn't really know where books of the Bible were either, or did he have a little bit of a background? He had a little bit of a background. He grew up Methodist, and so they did go to church on occasion, but more often than not, it was, you know, we now call them creasers, right, Christmas and Easter.
And it was more of a ritualistic, it wasn't like a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, because there is a distinct difference between the two. Wow, what a great story. Stick around, we'll be right back with more on The Christian Perspective. This show is brought to you by Generous Joe's. The coffee company with the Christian perspective. This is the answer that Christians and conservatives have been looking for. A coffee company that gives back to causes you care about.
Order your coffee today at ShopGenerousJoes.org, and even subscribe to a subscription coffee plan and never forget the coffee you love, or the causes you care about. Walk in the footsteps of Jesus and see the Bible come to life. This December, join nationally syndicated radio host and founder of the Citizens for America Foundation, Dr. Chris Hughes, on a life-changing trip to Israel. It's one of the world's oldest and most fascinating travel destinations, learning the faithful from all over the world for thousands of years. Visit Jerusalem's religious quarters and explore Christianity's most treasured religious sites, like the Wailing Wall, the Dome of the Rock, and the Via Dolorosa. Walk with Chris through the winding alleyways of Nazareth's old city and visit ancient Bethlehem, the place of our Savior's birth. Float in the Dead Sea, visit the Sea of Galilee and the Jewish fortress of Masada. See firsthand where the events of the Bible took place. Touring Israel with Dr. Chris Hughes is a travel odyssey like no other.
Visit CitizensForAmericaFoundation.com and get ready for an unforgettable trip and memories that will last a lifetime. Do you desire to build family relationships that stand the test of time? Does creating a godly family seem like a daunting challenge?
You're not alone. I'm Connie Yaupers, author of Parenting Beyond the Rules and host of Equipped to Be. As a mother of five, I understand your struggles. For 35 years I have been helping families just like yours build lasting relationships.
I'd like to invite you to tune in to Equipped to Be and visit ConnieYaupers.com where I share useful tips and proven strategies to help you navigate the seasons of motherhood, faith, and life with confidence and joy. On this day in 1954, President Dwight Eisenhower signed the act of Congress which added the phrase, One Nation Under God, to the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag. Eisenhower stated, From this day forward, millions of schoolchildren will daily proclaim the dedication of our nation to the Almighty. This has been an American Minute with Bill Federer. For a free transcript, call American Minute at 1-888-USA-WORD. Welcome back to Christian Perspective. I'm Chris Hughes.
My guest today is Tonya Shonut. Those of you that are listening, if you're not Southern Baptist, the Southern Baptist Convention is the largest Protestant denomination in the world, meaning it's not Catholic. The church is within the Southern Baptist Convention and I think the support, if you understand as we get into this issue today, are independent and autonomous, meaning like if you go to a Catholic church, the head of the Catholic church on earth is the pope and there's a hierarchy of priests and archbishops and bishops and that kind of thing and they all work for the Catholic church as a whole. Southern Baptist churches are independent and autonomous, meaning that they are governed on the local basis. The Southern Baptist Convention has no power or authority over the local church. What they come together for is the purpose of missions. So they are the largest mission-sending organization, at least Protestant, in the world and what they do is they give to a fund. So if you're a Southern Baptist, you may not even know this, your church gives a percentage of your tithes and offerings to what's called the cooperative program of the Southern Baptist Convention and with the money raised in that cooperative program where these are independent and autonomous churches cooperating together, they send missionaries in the United States through what's called the North American Mission Board and around the world as well through the IMB, which is the International Missions Board. So other than coming together for the purpose of cooperation, there is no power structure or authority of the Southern Baptist Convention over local churches at all. But over the last couple of years, there's been some accusations of possible sexual abuse by some churches or pastors or leadership in churches across the country and last year at the annual meeting, the Southern Baptist Convention voted to have an investigation where a firm was hired to investigate allegations of sexual abuse within churches of the Southern Baptist Convention and that report was recently released.
And Tanya, you and I have talked. I know that that report of sexual abuse is of interest to you. Why is that report interesting to you and why did it affect you? So when I was five years old, again, my parents just lacked a lot of supervision. They kind of lived in their own world and did their own thing and they allowed for a neighbor, an 18-year-old male neighbor who they hardly knew to babysit me and he sexually assaulted me when I was five years old. And I blacked out the experience because it was so traumatic and didn't start remembering it until I was in fifth grade. And so that was part of what led me to the alcohol, the drinking, the destructive behaviors, bad relationships and really was the key experience in my upbringing that caused so much pain for me. And so when I came to know Jesus, obviously I was having a tremendous amount of depression and PTSD and there was just so much going on in my life and I knew that I needed help.
And so as I began to get discipled and work with leaders at the church, God used a pastor, actually we moved back to Montana in 2001, and God used a pastor from Montana to really help walk my husband and an SBC pastor at that, my husband and I through the trauma of sexual abuse and specifically me and he helped me walk through that. So when I began to see what was happening within the SBC, the real pivotal moment for me was about four years ago when I had attended a conference and in this particular conference they were focused on the victims of sexual abuse, but it stopped at that. It stopped at these are victims, this is terrible, and then there was nothing else. And I'm like, wait a minute, you're not telling them the most important thing that they need to hear. They need to hear about the healing of Jesus Christ. And that conversation wasn't happening.
I actually had to walk out of the room because I was so infuriated that these women that were talking about this and these men were being completely shortchanged on the power of Christ. And so that for me was the catalyst in becoming really interested in what was happening in the SBC world. And at the end of the day we have this report, there's no doubt that there's been failings on both sides. What is concerning to me, all we are talking about is the problem and nobody is getting down into the solution and where do we go from here and we cannot continue to foster this environment of victimization.
Yes, it's very important that we acknowledge that people have been victimized. We have to do that. We have to talk about that.
But do not stop there. We've got to help these people get over the healing bridge. And that's really what I'm most passionate about is because I know that the SBC pastors that were influential in my life helped me along the way and I don't want our pastors to be afraid to speak truth because of what's happening.
So that's where I'm at. And I think that's a real concern, Tanya, because I've actually talked to some pastors over the past week or so and they're scared because there seems to be a lawsuit mentality out there and I think some people felt like they were engaging in the proper, and I'm not trying to defend anybody, but I'm not talking about people that like pastors that actually participated, but maybe when someone brought, there's even been accusations in a lot of careers run where someone in the church brought the information to a pastor or to a seminary president and they may or may not have thought that they were handling it properly at the time and here years later it comes out and they're being accused of rushing it under the table or whatever. So I know a lot of pastors, you're right, I think they're scared and they don't know what to do about it, and it's clear that the Southern Baptist Convention has invested a lot of time in this, a lot of money, I think there were more than 700 cases, I think, if that's right, that were revealed in this report. I know it's not just last year, but over many years, and it needs to be investigated and there needs to be a healing, and there's definitely a sex abuse problem globally, not just within the church, as we mentioned in the first segment, you told me, I didn't realize it was this high, that one in three women and one in four men had actually been sexually abused. So there probably needs to be a multifaceted approach to this, Tanya, how do we address this?
Sure, yeah, and that's the key, how do we address this, where do we go from here? I think the first one and the most important one is prevention, putting protections in place, and that's not just institutionally, but that's from a practical standpoint, that's from a family standpoint. I think that, you know, there's a lot of, for my husband and I specifically, when we had kids, we were very, you know, we're not going to allow for sleepovers with people we don't know, and we just, parents have to be on guard, and I'm not saying, you know, be helicopter parents, you've got to pay attention to what's going on in the surroundings, and there's warning signs, and too often, you know, people are distracted, and we need parents to be focused and be aware of what's happening, and the same is true for the institutions, and, you know, I don't have all the answers to what that looks like, but our job for the church is to protect the most vulnerable, all across the board, and when we're not doing that, there is a problem, and so we've got to make sure that protection's in place, and then that kind of really leads into the second part of that, and that's equipping pastors and churches. Many, many pastors are not equipped to handle wounded souls in the church. We're inadvertently fostering victimization when we don't deal directly with wounds of the congregants, and, you know, I don't know, you know, what they're teaching in seminaries, or, you know, what kind of coping skills that they have, but a lot of pastors just don't have the tools to know how to deal with this, and if they do have the tools, like you said earlier, they're afraid, because they're like, well, what if she thinks that I didn't believe her, or, I mean, there's just all of these different things, and so we've got to make sure that pastors and churches are equipped, and this is where real-life experience comes in.
It's really great to be educated in academia, and that's all really important. It's very important to be theologically sound and know all about everything that the Bible says, but there's a practical standpoint to this, and if we get so focused on the theology component of it, or the other side, the practical component, and we don't combine the two, we miss opportunities, and so making sure pastors are equipped, because this sex abuse, whether it's done to the female or to the male, affects the family as a whole. For years, I had flashbacks, and my husband had to work through that with me, and specifically from an intimate perspective, and what does that look like, and a lot of pastors don't know how to deal with that, and it's not because they don't want to, and it's not because they're not willing, it's just that the church and pastors, the pastors are the doctors for the wounded souls, and to help guide them into the healing power of Christ, and so that then puts forth, we need a framework for the institutions that help strengthen the families, and then we need to focus, this is the other thing, oftentimes we become so focused on baptism and numbers, you'll be like, hey, how many baptisms did you have this week? The stuff that they report in to the SBC executive team is the baptisms, and when we focus more on that, instead of discipling and helping healing the people in our church, we're missing opportunities to help those folks cross the bridge of healing, and so I think that there's a void right now in that, and I think everyone's talking about this, the opportunity to disciple and to help, so that's a long answer to your question about how we take a multi-faceted approach. Well, we definitely need to.
Let's take a quick break. We'll come back, I want to dig into a little bit more of what you just told us. So folks, we're talking about the sexual abuse situation across the country, and how churches can and should deal with it and become better equipped.
Stick around, we'll be right back with more. The United States of America has a strong Christian heritage, but most Americans don't know the truly important role that God in the Bible played in the founding of this great nation. This June, join nationally syndicated radio host and founder of the Citizens for America Foundation, Dr. Chris Hughes, for four amazing days in our nation's capital. With Chris, you'll embark on a journey of discovering the hidden secrets of Washington, D.C., and rediscover much of America's forgotten Christian heritage. Your tour will include an up-close and personal look at the nation's establishment and how it's evolved over the centuries. Learn about the government and the men who helped forge this new kind of republic, one that acknowledged the Creator from its very inception.
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I'm Chris Hughes. My guest today is Tanya Shownut. Tanya has authored a book called Wounded and Defined Victim to Victor and we're talking about a delicate issue. I'm this week at the Southern Baptist Convention's annual meeting in Anaheim, California as it opens up later today. There's just been a report released from the executive committee of the Southern Baptist Convention about sex abuse and how it is handled and addressed within churches.
It's going to be a big issue that we discuss later today and tomorrow and I wanted to have Tanya come on and talk about this important issue. Tanya, I want to get into the Southern Baptist Convention a little bit more in just a minute, but before we do, because there are, as you said, that one out of three women, one out of four men have been affected by this. If you're sitting in church, look at the person left or right of you. They've probably been sexually abused. One of you has. So I don't want to just brush over what you covered right before the break.
You talked about understanding warning signs or looking for warning signs. I know like you, you know, when I know my, particularly my daughter, I think stayed aggravated with me because she didn't want to go spend the night with people that I had never met and never met their parents. And I wouldn't let her do it.
And she was mad at me. But this is a situation that is terrible. And it's not always, I mean, you can't be safe with just who you know. Many cases, I don't know the statistics, many times it's somebody you know, as in the cases you shared, you know, with the babysitter that was, I guess, a neighbor and a friend to your family, or many times it's family members. And I know, and I'm not accusing all stepdads, but I mean, this is one reason that I hate divorce.
It's a plague in our country. And I've heard many stories. Somebody very close to me, a stepfather, you know, abused her for years. So, you know, it is an issue that touches all of our lives, whether we realize it or not. And then it affects as you shared, later on when people become married, their spouse, they may not have shared or, you know, like you said, for years you kind of hid it. Not hid it, but it was hidden from you, you know, from your conscious level.
You tried to push it very back in the dark places of your mind. And people get married and it affects their sexual relationship and other ways of their relationship as well. And the spouse may not have a clue that that person was abused. And it really, really affects families, and sometimes in a terrible way. But you talked about we need to recognize warning signs.
I had Dr. Willie Montague on the show a while back, and he was talking about sex trafficking, which I know is a different issue, but talked about how even, you know, I always thought of sex trafficking, kids were like kidnapped and shipped away. And he's like, no, even in your own house, your kid could be manipulated by somebody on the internet and be sharing pictures and that kind of thing. And then he shared warning signs. You mentioned warning signs a while ago. What are some of the things that parents can look for to know that there might be a problem and we need to start addressing it?
Sure. So specifically when it comes to children, let's say, you know, and I can only speak from my experience, and I am by no means a licensed counselor. I've just, along the way, counseled women who have gone through this and have had addictions and things of that nature. And, you know, for me specifically, I was deathly, deathly afraid of being left alone with anybody to the point where, like, I was clinging to my mom's leg and never wanted to be left alone. I would sleep on the floor in their bedroom. You know, you have kids who have bedwetting issues. There's oftentimes very irrational fears that are accompanying children.
And I think, you know, those are some of the warning signs. And I have always been very frank with my kids about, and this is kind of one segue to this, about talking about good touch, bad touch. Sometimes that's uncomfortable for people, but we need to have conversations with our kids and tell them, you know, at a very young age I was telling my kids, like, look, you need to be careful.
Don't let anybody touch you. Like, you know, appropriate conversations. And there's a lot of books out there written about this and how you can specifically talk to your kids. But, you know, I always taught my kids too, like, if you feel uncomfortable, if there's anything in your spirit that you're not comfortable with, you need to listen to that because, you know, that could be God trying to protect you. And so I was very open with my kids about it because I always wanted to make sure that they paid attention and they had situational awareness, they had a strong situational awareness. And I think, you know, that's something that, you know, many of our kids are in their devices or, you know, just not paying attention and it's easy for parents to just let that go.
But we've got to be able to equip these kids for the real world and so making sure that we have that. And then on the parental side is, you know, I just opt towards, you know, parents don't let your children have sleepovers with people you don't know and even if there are people that you do know, you know, I truly believe that God, there is something to be said about intuition and about that feeling of this just doesn't feel right and, you know, you've got to listen to it and you've got to just be like, you know, this just doesn't feel right. And I always told my kids, I'm like, look, if you don't feel right, blame it on me and just say, hey, my mom says I've got to go. So those are just some of the things, Chris, that I would… Yeah, I think what you've given is good advice, Tanya, and I think it's important, again, I certainly know Kelz are, but I think our kids need to know that we're a safe place and sometimes I know I've been guilty where my kids were scared to tell, I mean, not in this situation, but other things, because, you know, if I say something, dad's going to get mad or the opposite extreme is I don't want to hurt mom and dad.
So we have to make it where they can feel like they are safe in coming to us and talking to us about these different issues. So that's all great advice, Tanya, and I appreciate you because it is such a problem in our country today and we just need to be in prayer about it and we need to really be observant with our kids and if they're acting different, there is a reason that they're acting the way that they're acting and you need to not worry about, you know, I've seen some parents, well, you know, I don't want them to think that I'm stalking them or that, you know, I don't want them making mad. Look, God didn't give them to you to be their friend. I mean, certainly we want to be friends with our kids, but you're a parent. Their safety and their lives were entrusted to you, parents, by God and it's your job to protect them, no matter if they get mad at you or frustrated or whatever.
You need to protect them from dangerous situations that their young minds just don't comprehend or understand and I mean, there have been plenty of times when my kids were mad at me, but I don't care. I mean, I'd much rather them be mad at me than end up raped or murdered or killed or whatever it may be. I'm sorry, I'm getting worked up.
Well, Tanya... It's a very sensitive subject. It's easy to get worked up. You know, something that's concerned me about this SBC business, it is an important issue. It needs to be addressed, so I'll get letters for this because people are going to take out of context what I'm saying, but there also, in some ways, almost looks like there's a witch hunt going on from what I've been afraid is a liberal infiltration into the Southern Baptist Convention and it looks to me like they've tied themselves to the Me Too movement and if you don't want to address that, I certainly understand, but do you get the feeling that they're trying to become part of that Me Too movement as well? Well, let me just say this and I want to make sure that, you know, at the end of the day, this podcast is about where do we go from here, but I will say that there's a level of ignorance, in my opinion, that is occurring within specific blocks of the SBC and I think that, you know, this idea of church too and being associated with Me Too, I don't think, and I want to give the benefit of the doubt, I don't think they even have any idea of where the roots of that movement. I don't think that they understand that the founder, you know, there's ties to the LGBTQ movement, you know, they do a lot of sensitivity training within their, even if you just go to their website and take a look at it, I mean, it's about radical feminism and I'm very passionate... Which organization? For our literacy, Tonya, are you talking about which organization? The Me Too, the Me Too movement, just go to metoo.com. Just want to be clear, you weren't saying the Southern Methodist Convention.
No, no, I'm sorry, no, no, no, no, no. I'm saying that this is the Me Too movement, but when you tie yourself to the Me Too movement by doing hashtags, church too, things like that, I mean, what's the purpose for that? What are you trying to say? Because honestly, tying yourself to a radical feminist movement who just values family, to me, is not productive to what we're doing. You know, a lot of the radical feminists are working heavily to break down the family and I'm very concerned about that. And the thing that is concerning to me is that female wounds, when you've been wounded specifically at the hands of men, you have a propensity to be a man-hater. And I'm just going to be really honest with you, Chris, that's how, in my early upbringing, I didn't hate my husband or I didn't hate men, but I was very, very leery of their intentions. And if you don't address that and you don't let God take that pain and heal it and make you whole, you can have a propensity to get on a movement that bashes men.
And God never intended for that. And so I'm very concerned that we would even associate with that kind of movement. Yeah, me too. And I don't mean that as me too movement. Right.
I agree with you. Well, let's take a break, Tanya. I'm talking to Tanya Shallnut. She's the author of the book, Wounded Defined, and such an important topic that we're talking about is sexual abuse in families and within the church and how the victim should respond and how churches can get equipped.
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I'm Chris Hughes. My guest today is Tanya Shona. Tanya, you wrote a book called Wounded and Defined, Victim to Victor. What was the goal of telling your story and why did you write this book? I attended a conference and in that conference they were highlighting the victims, which is important to bring awareness, but what didn't happen was they didn't talk about where do we go from here and they didn't talk about the healing power of the cross and they didn't talk about the hope of Jesus Christ and that bothered me greatly because I know without a shadow of a doubt the only reason why God has helped me get where I am today is because I leaned into the healing power of Christ and because I had wise, a wise pastor, a wise husband who helped me along my journey to heal and so I was like, Lord, we cannot continue to foster this environment of victimization. These women need to have the hope of Jesus Christ because when you stay a victim it's such a helpless feeling. It affects so many families in a way. I'm sure it had to be difficult for you.
I mean, probably sharing your story, I guess, before you wrote the book with your husband and kids and your church, it probably had to be a very difficult process for you as well. You're talking about victims in the book a lot and today and you've talked about how victims feel powerless and Tanya, sometimes it seems like some people almost want to stay a victim. Why do some victims want to stay powerless in this situation? So I think more often than not it's easy to be a victim. It's easy.
Let's just be honest. It is so painful to have to dig up what happened in our past and look at it because it hurts and it brings back a flood of emotions and feelings that are very painful that you don't want to be associated with. So it is easy to just live in the victim role and to just stay there because then you don't have to take a look at those negative emotions. But there's no power in that. There's no encouragement. There's no hope in staying a victim. In fact, in my opinion, it takes you to depression and anxiety. Some definitions of a victim is the lack of trust, difficulty forgiving, they, like I said, have depression, anxiety, they lack coping skills, they're very, very fear-based, they express despair, panic, very suspicious.
Those are not characteristics that God wants us to live out. And so, unfortunately, it's easy to be a victim. And I would also say that our culture fosters victimization, right? I think that our culture, it absolutely does. And it feeds off of victims because when you create victims or you keep people victims, it's easy to influence them or persuade them ideologically or politically or, you know, they think, okay, so if we keep this block of victims here, we're going to come in and be the savior and fix this for them. And so, it is unfortunately something that is occurring in our culture, which is not just from a sexual abuse standpoint, but from a racial standpoint, from a sexual standpoint. I mean, they're just victim, victimizations all over. And it's not biblical. And God didn't want us to be victims.
And so many, even within the church, just almost find happiness in being a victim, which I don't understand. Well, I forgot to do this throughout the show. How do people find your book?
So, you can just go to my website, tonyashellnut.com, and that's with two T's on the end of it. I'm also on Amazon and on Audible, and you can order the book or you can order the Audible or the Kindle, whatever you prefer. And that was, you know, just speaking of that, Chris, I had to read my book for the Audible app. That was one of the most painful things that I have ever had to do. It was very painful, because again, you're reliving your experience, right? So, it just goes back to when you were talking about writing the book and it being very painful. I can remember, you know, I fly a lot, I travel a lot for work, and I would do most of my work on the airplane when I would be reviewing it. And there's a whole story about the gentleman who helped me write the book. He actually helped Bart Miller from MercyMe write his, and Steven Curtis Chapman's memoir, he helped him write his. And it was just such a God thing how he could encapsulate the emotion of everything.
And I can just remember sitting on the plane reading these chapters and just crying my eyes out, because it's so painful to relive. And so, I just hope that people will understand that God does not want you to continue to live in the pain of your past and be defined by the wounds of your past. He wants us to be defined by Christ and empowered and filled with hope, because like you said in the beginning, when you asked me about my testimony, that's all that we have. That is all that we have, and that's God's story in us. And when we keep it to ourselves, and when we live in the victimization place, we are not honoring God with what he's done. That's powerful. Well, Tanya, what's required for someone to overcome a sexual abuse wound? You know, so we've been wounded. How do we get out of this victimization, and how do we overcome like you did?
Well, first off, a lot of prayer. But secondly, it requires courage. It absolutely requires courage. And courage is, I don't remember who the quote is, that basically it's facing fear and doing it anyway, right? I mean, that's courage. And, you know, courage inspires people. So, you know, if you're choosing to live in the victim role, you're not really inspiring anybody. But when you face your problems, when you look at, you know, people that have overcome, those are the people that inspire. And so that requires courage. And being scared and doing it anyway.
John Wayne, right? You fall off the horse and get back on and do it anyway. It's the same thing. And then you have to be very intentional. You know, healing is not just, please, Lord, help. It's a process. It's a journey. But it's a beautiful journey. I mean, I think that that's, I just get choked up thinking about it. What God's done is beautiful. He took brokenness and has put me in a place now where I get to have the privilege of ensuring justice for the most vulnerable, ensuring protections are in place for our future generation. And that is only God. But I had to lean into that.
I had to be very intentional in seeking healing because it would have been very easy to revert back to the alcohol or some of the old ways of thinking. But God was just gracious and said, no, no, my way is better. You know, there's a book in the Bible, Isaiah 55, 8 through 9, where he says, Your ways are not my ways. Your thoughts are not my thoughts.
As higher as the heavens of the earth are. I probably just slaughtered that whole thing. But the whole point of it is that for many years I spent questioning, why would God allow something like this? Why would a loving God allow for me to be sexually abused and harmed?
Why? That does not sound like a loving God. And my very, very wise husband said to me, he said, Tanya, are you going to live here, hell on earth, always questioning why? Are you just going to choose to believe that God has a purpose for your pain? Those are tough words to swallow.
It is, and it's good advice, not just in the sexual abuse world, but other pains that people have as well. You talked about being wounded and that woundedness can also lead to anger and cause us to doubt God, as you're saying. How do we overcome, because I'm assuming you probably were mad at God as well, how do you overcome that anger at God? Well, I'm going to tell you, it took a while.
It really did take a while. I've always felt like I was a black sheep, even in my family, because my birth father left. I didn't have any siblings that were the same, and I just always fell out of place. So I just felt like God was just punishing me. He didn't like me.
He didn't love me. Job 13 says, though he slay me, I will trust in you. I spent a lot of time in Job.
I can relate to Job a lot. Even though Job lost everything, he still trusted in the Lord. For me, I just had to keep trusting in the Lord that he had a purpose for the pain. Now, by no means was that easy, and every day was different. But I journaled a lot, Chris, and I was able to go back and read through my journal and go, Oh, God answered my prayer here and here.
He just kept showing me favor and blessings. There certainly were many hardships along that journey. Even as late as 2016, Chris, I was dealing with some of this depression from thinking God hated me. Again, it was just me leaning into God and trusting and believing that he had something better.
I couldn't imagine that I am where I am today and that I get to do what I get to do today. I believe it is because I didn't give up, and I just kept pressing in and leaning into the Lord and seeking him. What a powerful story, Tanya. Is there something that you would like to say that could encourage pastors as they're dealing with these issues in their church? Be brave. It is the truth that sets us free.
If someone wouldn't have told me the truth about Jesus Christ, I wouldn't be here today. I just want to encourage you to keep speaking truth. I want to encourage you to get equipped, be equipped, to be able to handle some of these difficult issues. Remember to face them head on.
They're uncomfortable and they're painful, and no one likes to talk about this issue. But because we have such a rampant issue in our country and within the SBC, now more than ever, we need holy courage from our pastors to face this issue head on and to address it and to be equipped to address it. What a powerful story. Tanya, thank you for... I know this had to be difficult to talk about, but thank you for joining us today on The Christian Perspective. Thank you, Chris.
I'm very honored, and I appreciate all that you do. Folks, the book is called Wounded and Defined, Victim to Victor. You can find it at TanyaShalnut.com with two Ts, TanyaShalnut.com, or at Amazon. You can also get it at Audible and get to hear Tanya share her story in her own voice. Please get this book. It is important.
It affects you in ways you don't... if even you were not the victim, someone you know, I promise you, has had sexual abuse in their lives. You can share the show later today when it was released as a podcast. And of course, thank you for listening every day on your favorite radio station. Now, let's learn more about this issue, and let's go impact the culture for Jesus. Thank you for listening. The Christian Perspective with Chris Hughes. Learn more about impacting the culture for Jesus. Visit CitizensForAmericaFoundation.com.
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