Silence takes many forms in a dysfunctional family. There is the silence of the enabler who allows children to be beaten in anger. There is silence of the controller who chooses not to reveal truth so they can manipulate an outcome. There is the silence of children who are afraid to tell the truth for fear of what will happen when they get home. There is the silence of conspiracy where adults keep their mouths shut out of loyalty to someone much less worthy than God. And there is the silence of ostracization where no one talks to you anymore because you have broken the rules.
If you dare to break the silence, it’s guaranteed you will receive the silent treatment.
It goes without saying that sins of omission are often fueled by silence. Silence has enabled racism, sexism and the cruelest abuse this world has ever seen.
Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
-Martin Luther King, Jr.
A few years ago, I choose to tell the truth rather than be silent. I felt it was the only way to be just and the court record still states the truth I gave. It also reveals the truth about me–that I wished no harm on anyone involved. Because I chose to tell the truth, I’ve been scolded and ignored. I’m not sure which is worse someone trying to shame me for something I know was right or someone so angry they can’t even eat a meal with me without seething in anger. Or the silence.
Many parents punish their adult children with the silent treatment. To be ignored or be silent is to say you do not deserve to be a part of my life. It’s sad. It reveals a lack of wholehearted relationship. If we can’t stand each other because we worship or see God differently or make different choices our religion is hollow. Such behavior seems very unlike God.
Sometimes when people are abusive we have to erect boundaries because they don’t have control over themselves. If they yell and scream and call us names, they are not meeting us in the relationship with mutual respect and we have to walk away. The only way to solve such disagreements is to meet on common ground with mutual respect.
Cold and stony silence was never a part of God’s plan for the human family. We were meant to live open and honest lives. We were meant to stand up for those who are abused and tell the truth. We were meant to live in total naked honesty with nothing to hide. Those who endorse silence usually have something they want to hide. There is no faster way to harm yourself and your entire family than to be silent about things that really matter.
But he’s already made it plain
how to live, what to do,
what God is looking for in men and women.
It’s quite simple:
Do what is fair and just to your neighbor,
be compassionate and loyal in your love,
And don’t take yourself too seriously—
take God seriously.