(Note: don’t miss the valuable resources at the end of this post.)
The church of the twenty-first century needs to awaken from its moral slumber. In this age of “enlightenment,” we have been taught to be tolerant. We have gone soft on the exposition of the Scriptures. We have learned to ignore sin rather than deal with it. We have adopted the flawed notion that God’s grace somehow covers a carnal lifestyle. What a horrible misunderstanding of grace!
Let me be blunt. Far too often within the Christian home, wives are battered, husbands are neglected, children are abused, and dark, shameful forms of sexual depravity occur. As the Prophet Jeremiah said of the people of Judah: “Are they ashamed of their loathsome conduct? No, they have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush” (Jeremiah 6:15 NIV).
The one vestige of hope in the home used to be the innocent child. But now, not even children are safe. Many are used for sexual exploitation. Children are raped by relatives . . . girls are abused . . . boys become victims of incest. In their own homes, helpless children are molested—and by the very ones who should be protecting them!
Even Scripture reveals such awful carnality among God’s people. After King David’s adulterous affair with Bathsheba, David’s son Amnon lusted after his half-sister, Tamar. Amnon faked an illness and requested that Tamar bring him food in his bedroom. When she arrived, he grabbed her and—because he was stronger—raped her in spite of her resistance (2 Samuel 13:6–14).
Following this abhorrent act, this dear girl was awash in her grief. “Tamar put ashes on her head and . . . put her hand on her head and went away, weeping aloud as she went” (2 Samuel 13:19 NIV). When her father David heard of it, “he was furious” (13:21 NIV). But that’s it! He only got mad. David never got involved in the crisis.
When Tamar’s other brother Absalom heard of it, he told her: “Be quiet now, my sister; [Amnon] is your brother. Don’t take this thing to heart” (13:20). Can you believe those words? What stupid counsel! Don’t say anything? Keep silent when God’s law says Amnon should be stoned? But what could she do? Her brother said to hush, and her father did nothing. Tamar had no person to go to with her pain.
Both then and now, when such violations occur—with no one to act in defense of the helpless—the child faces a threatening future of moral confusion, personal shame, spiritual disillusionment, emotional scars, and family anger.
Fellow-pastor, it is time we speak up in defense of the helpless. The innocent victims of sexual abuse need a safe place to share their stories . . . and they need direction toward the emotional and spiritual healing found in Jesus Christ.
The world has never provided a safe and secure place from those who would abuse children. That’s why the church must be that place. It is the responsibility of church leaders to make sure the church of God remains a place of trust and respect. A haven where no one is touched inappropriately. A refuge where hurting individuals can confide in a teacher, in an elder, in a pastor, or in an older friend.
I urge you to speak out on this subject and to foster an environment where those who need to talk can share their stories. I have provided below a list of related resources that may help you in your role as a pastor, teacher, and shepherd. At the top of this list is a two-part interview I did with Dave Carder that you can listen to right now. This interview gives us as pastors a much-needed perspective on dealing with sexual abuse in the church and in the home.
I hope you’ll also keep handy a stack of business cards of qualified counselors in your area who are experienced in talking with families and victims about the struggles connected to sexual abuse. Those who come to you need you to direct them to trusted professionals who can walk them through the challenging process of healing. If you’re not sure where to find a good counselor in your area, Dallas Theological Seminary has a Web page that helps you find counselors in your area.
Many today are living like Tamar did, with ashes of shame and humiliation on their heads, weeping aloud with no one to hear.
Shepherds must protect the sheep.
My prayer is that as a result of you speaking out in defense of the helpless, many victims will reach out to someone for help for the first time.
How Churches Can Deal with the Issues of Molestation
How Families Can Deal with the Issues of Molestation
- Visit Insight for Living’s Topical Page on Sexual Abuse.
- Visit Insight for Living’s online store for books, messages, and counseling resources related to Sexual Abuse.