It is a sober and sobering thought, sexual abuse and the Church. Most of us have heard the allegations about the Catholic Church and we have tsked tsked each time another victim comes forth with another story of the parish priest who abused them. We think that the Catholic Church’s problem has to do with the enforced celibacy, but the truth of the matter is that, according to psychologists, the priest was a pedophile long before he was a priest. The problem with the problem is “once a pedophile, always a pedophile.” And if this is a problem in the Catholic Church, and it is, then is will most certainly be a problem for the Protestant Church. Now, we have to ask the question, “What responsibility does the Church have in regard to its congregation when it comes to this issue of child molestation/sexual abuse?”
The Tuesday evening program of Issues After Dark: Ladies Night with Donna introduced two women to the IAD listeners, women who have gone through the trauma of child abuse/sexual molestation and have come out of that darkness into the light of God’s love. The power of God to deliver and restore an individual to a place of welcome in His family cannot be ignored. The other thing that cannot be ignored is the fact that these two women are not anomalies, for the statistics declare that one in three girls will be molested and one in seven boys will be molested. Do the math in your church and your perspective about whether or not this is an issue for your assembly will fade as you begin to realize that based on these numbers, the adult sitting next to you on the church pew may be a survivor of abuse, or a child in children’s church is enduring that trauma right now.
What shall we say to these things? Can we afford to bury our heads in the sand and hope that we will never have to deal with this issue? The answer has to be a resounding “No!” The Church must become proactive when it comes to the realities of life in this sin stricken world. The church must tap into any and all resources available to assist them in the process of bringing their wounded members to wholeness. Certainly, the full gospel must always be preached and taught, but professional help for the psychological and emotional trauma suffered at the hands of a family member, family friend, teacher, or authority figure must already be in place, as well as resources identified for any future referral needs.
An article in “Christianity Today” includes the statistic that over 60 million Americans have been molested. Some of those individuals may even belong to your church.
What shall we say to these things?
Link to Christianity Today article on sexual abuse – http://www.christianitytoday.com/childrensministry/operations/sexualabuseinthechurch.html