Those ‘Monsters’ Have Victims

May 26, 2012

In the May 2012 issue of Christianity Today, the editors were appalled to learn that a former co-worker at the magazine was arrested for sexually assaulting two of his foster children. On the heels of this story came the revelation that a Wheaton College Christian education professor was arrested for hoarding and trading thousands of child porn images. They suddenly came to the revelation that all faith-based organizations can harbor child predators, not just Catholic rectories. In their article “The ‘Monsters’ Among Us,” they offered two principles for the Christian community in response. 

I have read articles from Christianity Today off and on over the years and respect the quality of their writing and the broad array of Christian perspectives they represent. I only recently subscribed to the magazine, so I don’t know how much they have discussed this issue in prior articles.

In this case, though, I was disappointed by the inadequacy of their treatment of this issue. The two principles they offered were these:

1. We must prioritize protecting innocents when ex-offenders wish to be included in the community of faith. [Good, I totally agree.]

2. We must extend the gospel to child sex abusers. [Yes, I have even had the experience of being personally acquainted with an abuser who wished to remain part of our church, and I had to learn how to get over my disgust and love him because Jesus does.]

 That’s it. How nice that they thought of those things. Unfortunately, they failed to mention all the women, children, and even men sitting in the pews who have been victims of some “monster’s” abuse—maybe even the one being ministered to.

– How are their feelings being considered by the church’s acceptance of this particular sinner?

– Will they be criticized for their inability to worship with a person whose crime is similar to the one that devastated them?

– Is the fact that these victims exist even been recognized publicly by the church, or is it still a “dirty little secret” that no one is willing to talk about?

– Have counseling or support groups been made regularly available to survivors of sexual abuse?

– Has a church leader ever stated publicly that sexual abuse is a sin or that Jesus can bring restoration to wounded victims of abuse?

The statistics say that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys has been sexually assaulted by the time they are 18. That means a lot of people in our churches are dealing with deep trauma. This is a huge topic that churches need to bring out of the dark.

Most especially, we should not begin showing grace to sex offenders until after we have shown it abundantly to those who have suffered sexual abuse. Their healing should be our first priority after all the prevention bases have been covered.

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