Dealing with Sexual Abuse in the Church: Advice for Pastors

Recent events have sparked vigorous debate regarding the proper handling of sexual abuse in the church. This essay is not an attempt to directly address a specific incident, but it will certainly intersect well-known incidents at points. While I was pastoring, I dealt with a multitude of sexual abuse cases that occurred both prior to and concurrent with my ministry. The list of tragedies included several rapes of teenagers, gang rape, incest, one entire family of five children molested by the father, and bestiality. While I am certainly not the most experienced person in this regard (not by a long shot), I think I have enough experience to contribute to the conversation.

I feel compelled to write this essay primarily for the younger generation of future pastors. Unless a clear message of what is biblical, right and courageous is sounded, I fear that many of them will enter ministry confused, fearful and uncertain of the proper manner of dealing with sexual abuse. I am afraid that many will swallow the weak excuses for leadership that are often given when pastors fail to properly deal with this terrible phenomenon in the church. Too often believers defend obvious failures of leadership, offer weak excuses, or attempt to bury offenses and hope everybody eventually forgets about them.

A Word for the Pastors

Before you think I am being overly critical of pastors, let me give a few caveats that I hope will communicate my sympathy for any pastor who has to deal with sexual abuse. First, sexual abuse is everywhere. Estimates of abused women range from 1 in 5 to 1 in 3. For men, abuse ranges from 1 in 7 to 1 in 5. Take the average church of 100 people, evenly split between males and females. In this accounting, 20-33 females and 14-20 males will have been or will eventually be sexually abused.1 This is a staggering number, and it screams for colleges and seminaries to give those preparing for ministry clear and sophisticated training on dealing with sexual abuse. In this essay I will primarily speak in terms of male predator and female victim, but the dynamic happens in every possible combination.

Second, any case of sexual abuse is messy, complex, emotional, and exhausting. Sexual abuse implies predation, and predators are notoriously deceitful, conniving, and evasive. A pastor can often feel like a detective, trying to track down and extract the truth from a situation clouded in lies, emotional devastation, fear, anger and cover-ups. In addition, a pastor cannot depend upon the police department or Department of Children and Families (or whatever it is called in your state) to be of much help in most cases. In the state of Connecticut where I pastored, DCF was rife with corruption, neglect and even abuse of children in their charge. My experience with DCF was with a few well-meaning case workers overwhelmed with caseloads often being managed poorly by bureaucrats. The police often had bigger concerns with which to deal, such as drug lords and gangs.

Finally, until the past 15-20 years, sexual abuse was never spoken of in many fundamental and evangelical circles. Only in the last decade have colleges and seminaries made concerted effort to provide quality training to future leaders. Most pastors who were trained more than 15 years ago literally have no formal training in dealing with sexual abuse. Today there are many good resources to help a pastor effectively deal with abuse, but these are recent developments. (On a personal level, I know of no more qualified experts than Chuck and Sue McLain at Calvary Baptist Seminary in Lansdale and Bruce Meyer at Maranatha. Readers would do well to take their classes.)

Understanding Sexual Abuse

Before we go any further, we need to define sexual abuse. The National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect defines child sexual assault as: “Contacts or interactions between a child and an adult when the child is being used for sexual stimulation of the perpetrator or another person when the perpetrator or another person is in a position of power or control over the victim.”

There are several key components to this definition. First, sexual abuse is any contact or interaction…when the child is being used for the sexual stimulation of the predator. Contact or interaction includes actual physical contact, in addition to forcing a child to watch sexual acts or pornography, etc. I would add that lewd comments, gestures and looks also qualify as abuse.

Second, the legal definition of “child” is anyone under eighteen years old, even though the age of consent may be lower in certain states. Legally, and I think, wisely, children under eighteen are not considered to be responsible for sexual behavior with adults. This may seem like an arbitrary determination by some. As the father of seventeen- and fifteen-year-old daughters, I think this is just about right. This is not to deny the fact that some teenagers occasionally seduce adults, but the occurrences of children seducing adults are rare in comparison to the vast majority of cases where the minor is preyed upon. The reason responsibility is not placed upon the minor is simple: It is not normal behavior for a minor to initiate sexual contact with an adult. I know this point will raise howls of protest from men who have “fallen” to the charms of teenage girls, but it is simply not the case that very many teens are out there looking to initiate sexual relations with forty-year-old men. Besides, as Christians we hold adults to a higher standard. Let me say this very clearly. If a teenager should ever initiate sexual contact with an adult, it is the adult who is first and foremost responsible to resist temptation and refuse the contact.

Why so many people don’t understand this is a mystery to me. In so many instances where Christian men (especially leaders) have preyed upon teenagers, it seems that the automatic assumption is that this “godly man” would never do such a thing willingly. He must have been seduced by a perverse teenage girl. She is to blame for ruining the man’s ministry or position or life. This kind of response needs to be identified as the twisted delusion that it is.

Third, sexual abuse happens when the perpetrator or another person is in a position of power or control over the victim. This neglected point is often misunderstood or ignored in cases of sexual abuse. Having control over a victim is a powerful dynamic that can leave one absolutely in the grip of the perpetrator. Power is gained in many ways, and unfortunately religious or spiritual power is often the best tool of the abuser.

Predators use a variety of scare tactics: everything from threats of bodily harm against the victim or her family to threats of public exposure and shame and loss of family support and love. They may appeal to her sympathy and incite fear of church discipline or even damnation. Recently in our area, a “Christian” man was exposed as raping his now nineteen-year-old adopted daughter continuously from the very first night he brought her home at the age of twelve. All those years he threatened that if she told anyone, the family would reject her and have nothing to do with her. And he was right! When he was finally exposed, the negligently ignorant wife blamed all those years of abuse on the daughter and threw her out of the house. The power dynamic in sexual abuse cannot be underestimated.

If this description so far makes you sick to your stomach and afraid to ever have to deal with sexual abuse, it should. It is not for the faint of heart or the ill-prepared. Without the training I received in seminary I would have completely failed the sheep that limped into my office, broken and bleeding from the wolf-attacks they had endured. So how should a pastor deal with sexual abuse in his congregation?

Shepherding the Victim

First, a distinction needs to be made between sexual immorality and sexual abuse. They are not the same. The issue of consent is not a minor issue; it is the issue. When two adults or two minors engage in consensual sexual immorality, they are both morally responsible for their actions. When one person forces another to engage in a sexual act, there is no responsibility on the part of the victim. And by definition, there can be no consensual sexual contact between minors and adults. Why? Because adults have inherent power over minors. Again, I am aware of the rare cases where a sixteen- or seventeen-year-old may appear to be consensually involved with an adult. But even at that age, there is a power dynamic in the relationship that makes it abuse.

What does this mean for pastoral care? In the case of sexual contact between a minor and an adult, the minor ought to be considered the innocent victim unless clear and compelling evidence says otherwise. And even in such rare cases, the responsibility of the act still rests squarely on the shoulders of the adult. I am amazed at the confusion on this issue. In an attempt to somehow explain how a “Christian” man who seemed to be godly, seemed to be a good family man, and seemed to love God could do such a thing, blame is quite often laid at the feet of the minor. It is especially appalling to me when women rush to blame a teenager for sexual contact with an adult. Perhaps many women who respond in this fashion were abused themselves, and have never stopped blaming themselves for the abuse they suffered.

The main role of the pastor with the victim at this point is that of the gentle shepherd, recognizing that he is dealing with a severely wounded lamb who needs care, comfort, counseling, support, courage and more. A pastor needs to demonstrate compassion toward the victim, reassuring her that the abuse was not her fault, and that the church will be there to help her through the trauma that will unfold in her life over the next years as she comes to grips with this most devastating violation of her person.

It is not uncommon for abuse victims to suffer depression, thoughts of suicide, eating disorders, self-mutilation, and a host of other symptoms in the years following an act of abuse. Pastors need to be prepared for the long haul to minister patiently to the victim. The victim will be wracked with guilt, fear, anger and other emotions. She will be tormented with questions such as, “Could I have fought harder? Did I do anything to encourage him? Why am I such a bad person?” In addition, the victim will most likely suffer the humiliation of ignorant people making hurtful comments. All this adds up to a monumental task for a pastor in the post-abuse care of an abuse victim.

The pastor needs to take the lead in finding women who will come alongside her in the process. He needs to help the family find a good counselor and perhaps a good lawyer. He needs to fulfill the commands of 1 Thessalonians 5:14 to “encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.” Above all, the pastor needs to ensure that the victim is not exposed to shame in any way for the heinous act committed against her. The one place a violated person ought to be able to go to find relief from shame and condemnation is the church. How a pastor prepares his people for this eventuality will make all the difference in the world. This will be discussed later.

(See Part 2 on shepherding the perpetrator and shepherding the church.)

Notes

1 Editor’s note: Perhaps the congregation size would need to be 200 to produce the final numbers indicated here (since the statistics are calculated based on 100 females (1 in 5 = 20/100, 1 in 3 = 33/100) + 100 males (1 in 7 = 14/100, 1 in 5 = 20/100)? Or if the average church is 100 and not 200, the ranges of abused women/men should be adjusted in half (for a congregation of 50 women/50 men). Still a “staggering number.”


Mark Farnham is Assistant Professor of Theology and New Testament at Calvary Baptist Theological Seminary (Lansdale, PA). He and his wife, Adrienne, grew up in Connecticut and were married after graduating from Maranatha Baptist Bible College (Watertown, WI). They have two daughters and a son, all teenagers. Mark served as director of youth ministries at Positive Action for Christ (Rocky Mount, NC) after seminary and pastored for seven years in New London, Connecticut. He holds an MDiv from Calvary and a ThM in New Testament from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (South Hamilton, MA). He has also studied ancient manuscripts at Harvard Divinity School and philosophy at Villanova University. He is presently a doctoral student at Westminster Theological Seminary (Glenside, PA) in the field of Apologetics. These views do not necessarily reflect those of Calvary Baptist Theological Seminary or its faculty and administration.

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Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

RPittman wrote:
Louise Dan wrote:
RPittman wrote:
Jay, my frustration is that we are living in bitterness, vindictiveness and recriminations about the past. I'm more concerned about the present and future. Let's get to work on curtailing and preventing sexual abuse from occurring. What do you say?

We have to be careful with this line of reasoning, because for every child who comes forward (or adult who was abused as a child), it was in "the past." Certainly we want to prevent such abuse. But we also have to have an answer better than "forgive and forget or you'll become bitter" for those who finally, maybe even decades later, come forward with past abuse against them. For some, just the simple statement, "You sinned against me" gets them labeled bitter and vindictive. We need something much better than just a reverse recrimination against the person who comes forward to say they were abused.

I don't think that I said what you think I said or implied. I was just trying to counterbalance the excessive wallowing in anger and pity. Of course, I believe that we must punish the offenders and comfort the offended. Having worked in this area for a number of years, I think that I have a much more detailed counseling perspective than "simply forgive and forget." Do I appear that naive and clueless? Give me credit for some intelligence, please. I was simply expressing my frustration with the blame game that goes nowhere. That was it. Read the fifty plus posts and see that few addressed prevention. The scenarios that you describe in your post do NOT reflect my views or practice at all.

I've read blogs and comments here and there by women who've been abused/attacked at some point in their life, and it seems many of the more vocal have become 'man-haters'. They spew hatred toward men in general, but mostly men in authority. They appear to view the world as a place where there is a pervert behind every pulpit or staff position in a church, and any question of their emotional balance or skepticism of their portrayal of events as tantamount to being an accessory to their victimization.

Jumping off an emotional cliff does nothing to help other victims or prevent abuse. IMO it just furthers the victimization to define oneself as a victim for the rest of one's life. Christ calls us to victory over sin, death, and Hell itself. Let's continue to seek justice and judgment, but not forget the comfort and victory offered us through Christ.

Alex Guggenheim's picture

Susan R wrote:

I've read blogs and comments here and there by women who've been abused/attacked at some point in their life, and it seems many of the more vocal have become 'man-haters'. They spew hatred toward men in general, but mostly men in authority. They appear to view the world as a place where there is a pervert behind every pulpit or staff position in a church, and any question of their emotional balance or skepticism of their portrayal of events as tantamount to being an accessory to their victimization.

Jumping off an emotional cliff does nothing to help other victims or prevent abuse. IMO it just furthers the victimization to define oneself as a victim for the rest of one's life. Christ calls us to victory over sin, death, and Hell itself. Let's continue to seek justice and judgment, but not forget the comfort and victory offered us through Christ.

This is important for anyone who has ever been abused to learn during the process of evaluating and responding to the abuse. Often personally satisfying remedies do not present themselves in the course of dealing with ANY form of abuse. Even when we look outside the periphery of sexual abuse to all forms of suffering that humans encounter at the hands of another human we easily note that in fact, most of the time the recourse rarely satisfies the victim so that they no longer suffer any psychological injury. Unfortunately this is what is in view much of the time with regard to the penalties imposed on those guilty of abuse, namely the expectation that such penalties will produce a fulfillment and satisfaction on the part of the victim leading to wholeness of person. To depend on the satisfaction gained from the imposition of a penalty that causes suffering in another as the medium by which one will procure personal peace, wholeness, and resolution is a devils illusion. In fact such engagements only exacerbate the anger, rage, feelings of isolation, powerlessness and so on because penalties are not imposed for that purpose and cannot lead to such ends.

This is not to say that there is not a proper satisfaction of one accounting for offenses against another, the Scriptures make this clear but such a satisfaction is misplaced if one has the expectation that it is going to be the significant contributor to personal and psychological reconciliation (never minding spiritual reconciliation). And yes there is a psychological reward in learning or viewing your offender is being held accountable but it is woefully inadequate for what lies ahead regarding all a person who has been abused will need to deal with and come to terms with if they wish to recover wholeness, peace and a mature temperament.

But I digress so more to Susan's point. What often occurs with the people she described is a dissatisfaction with the recourse in the case of abuse, either it was non-existent, too lenient or viewed as something the offender will never satisfy in the mind of the victim. And that leaves you with one of two choices. Either you are going to resolve it yourself and understand it for what it was and is or you will refuse to address what is left inside of you which no other person can remedy and take it out of the rest of society by imposing your sinister view of others onto the world and all of its context. And your life will be filled with constant exaggerations of all slights and merciless demands of elevated suffering and humiliation by all who cross your path or any offender whose victim you identify with. Your life will be one of hysteria and not peace. Your life will be one of constant anger; whether underlying passive aggressive rage, sublimation through alcohol, licentiousness or gross self-righteous crusading, in the end it will be dysfunctional and always without the context of happiness, peacemaking, resolution and fairness.

While the psychological world is right about many things it does not have within its assets Christian doctrine that brings to us divine remedy to all circumstances and the power of forgiveness and confidence in God's plan and purpose that though someone meant it for evil, God will use their wrong for his divine good. The psychological sciences provides many insights and adjudications but it does not provide to the Christian the problem solving devices contained in Scripture which are distinctly for the believer.

Of course such Scriptural remedies do not justify the offenses of others nor do they replace rightful legal remedies but that is not what I have in view because after all the legal recourse and after all of the imposition of penalties, you still must live with yourself and the effects. What you do with that is your choice. But if you choose to stay identified with whatever abuse occurred your life will be consumed by such. You will remained controlled by the person who abused you and the abuse itself.

I am tempted to stop here but I won't lest someone come along and misrepresent what I said. I acknowledge that recovery from abuse is a process and I certainly am not suggesting either minimizing it by ignoring it or placing it a different context so one does not have to deal with it as it truly is. I do not pretend to suggest a one-size-fits-all prescription for all circumstances. All cases are unique. What I am clearly issuing is an echo of Susan's post that if, after some time and movement away from the circumstances, you find yourself encased in anger, bitterness, a distorted world view, hysteria and high drama in your life, you in fact have not dealt with it but are fostering it and failing to reconcile your life both psychologically and spiritually.

RPittman's picture

Susan R wrote:

I've read blogs and comments here and there by women who've been abused/attacked at some point in their life, and it seems many of the more vocal have become 'man-haters'. They spew hatred toward men in general, but mostly men in authority. They appear to view the world as a place where there is a pervert behind every pulpit or staff position in a church, and any question of their emotional balance or skepticism of their portrayal of events as tantamount to being an accessory to their victimization.

Jumping off an emotional cliff does nothing to help other victims or prevent abuse. IMO it just furthers the victimization to define oneself as a victim for the rest of one's life. Christ calls us to victory over sin, death, and Hell itself. Let's continue to seek justice and judgment, but not forget the comfort and victory offered us through Christ.

Susan, as usual, you've made a good, sensible observation. In the victim-recovery industry, this is actually the outworking of a philosophical position spawned by feminism. They view sex as male domination forced upon females for the male pleasure, domination, and control. It is the violation of the female self, identity, autonomy, and freedom. This outlook mitigates against the establishmentarian marriage concept and procreation. The presumption is that every male is an abuser. It can trend away from heterosexuality toward homosexuality. The driving energy behind this concept is anger, hatred, and desire for empowerment to strike back. Unfortunately, many people fall into this trap because it coincides with the pain, hurt, and emotional traumatic from a sexually abusive experience.

I call it unfortunate because I have never seen this path lead to improvement for the individual. They usually become unhappy, miserably confused people mired in a morass of damaging emotions. I've know women who have successfully coped with their hurt for many years become dysfunctional individuals when they became involved with this movement and its ideas. Although I'm sometimes criticized, my counseling approach is to compassionately deal with the hurt and pain, achieve forgiveness that brings closure, and move on to a positive and productive life for the Lord. I'm not saying this is quick and easy. It takes effort--lots of effort--and it requires some things that go against human nature and our emotions.

Anna Walker's picture

I've found that most abuse victims (myself included) are immediately tagged with the bitterness label if we desire to talk about the abuse. We're expected to leave it in the past and ignore it. I'm actually not an angry person if you met me in real life. I've made a life for myself apart from the abuse. I'd say that 75% of my friends don't even know I've been abused. I choose to share about it, though, when I feel like my experiences can be used to shed light on this issue. Within reason, abuse victims need the freedom to express their emotions. Those emotions are real and it provides validation that yes what happened was bad and provides closure. I'm about ten years out and I've come a long way as far as healing. I don't agree that if you allow the "victim" to express anger that that means that they will become angry and vindictive for the rest of their lives. It is a journey. If you know of a victim, pray with them, love them, support them, but just don't judge them. I also do not have an issue with being called a victim. Will I always identify myself as such -- no, probably not. But, by denying the victim the acknowledgment that wrong has been done, you are also minimizing at best and denying at worst what happened to them. Something did happen. If I was a cancer survivor -- no one would think twice of me mentioning the fact that I'd had cancer and that it was a hard period of time.

RPittman's picture

Alex Guggenheim wrote:
Susan R wrote:

I've read blogs and comments here and there by women who've been abused/attacked at some point in their life, and it seems many of the more vocal have become 'man-haters'. They spew hatred toward men in general, but mostly men in authority. They appear to view the world as a place where there is a pervert behind every pulpit or staff position in a church, and any question of their emotional balance or skepticism of their portrayal of events as tantamount to being an accessory to their victimization.

Jumping off an emotional cliff does nothing to help other victims or prevent abuse. IMO it just furthers the victimization to define oneself as a victim for the rest of one's life. Christ calls us to victory over sin, death, and Hell itself. Let's continue to seek justice and judgment, but not forget the comfort and victory offered us through Christ.

This is important for anyone who has ever been abused to learn during the process of evaluating and responding to the abuse. Often personally satisfying remedies do not present themselves in the course of dealing with ANY form of abuse. Even when we look outside the periphery of sexual abuse to all forms of suffering that humans encounter at the hands of another human we easily note that in fact, most of the time the recourse rarely satisfies the victim so that they no longer suffer any psychological injury. Unfortunately this is what is in view much of the time with regard to the penalties imposed on those guilty of abuse, namely the expectation that such penalties will produce a fulfillment and satisfaction on the part of the victim leading to wholeness of person. To depend on the satisfaction gained from the imposition of a penalty that causes suffering in another as the medium by which one will procure personal peace, wholeness, and resolution is a devils illusion. In fact such engagements only exacerbate the anger, rage, feelings of isolation, powerlessness and so on because penalties are not imposed for that purpose and cannot lead to such ends.

This is not to say that there is not a proper satisfaction of one accounting for offenses against another, the Scriptures make this clear but such a satisfaction is misplaced if one has the expectation that it is going to be the significant contributor to personal and psychological reconciliation (never minding spiritual reconciliation). And yes there is a psychological reward in learning or viewing your offender is being held accountable but it is woefully inadequate for what lies ahead regarding all a person who has been abused will need to deal with and come to terms with if they wish to recover wholeness, peace and a mature temperament.

But I digress so more to Susan's point. What often occurs with the people she described is a dissatisfaction with the recourse in the case of abuse, either it was non-existent, too lenient or viewed as something the offender will never satisfy in the mind of the victim. And that leaves you with one of two choices. Either you are going to resolve it yourself and understand it for what it was and is or you will refuse to address what is left inside of you which no other person can remedy and take it out of the rest of society by imposing your sinister view of others onto the world and all of its context. And your life will be filled with constant exaggerations of all slights and merciless demands of elevated suffering and humiliation by all who cross your path or any offender whose victim you identify with. Your life will be one of hysteria and not peace. Your life will be one of constant anger; whether underlying passive aggressive rage, sublimation through alcohol, licentiousness or gross self-righteous crusading, in the end it will be dysfunctional and always without the context of happiness, peacemaking, resolution and fairness.

While the psychological world is right about many things it does not have within its assets Christian doctrine that brings to us divine remedy to all circumstances and the power of forgiveness and confidence in God's plan and purpose that though someone meant it for evil, God will use their wrong for his divine good. The psychological sciences provides many insights and adjudications but it does not provide to the Christian the problem solving devices contained in Scripture which are distinctly for the believer.

Of course such Scriptural remedies do not justify the offenses of others nor do they replace rightful legal remedies but that is not what I have in view because after all the legal recourse and after all of the imposition of penalties, you still must live with yourself and the effects. What you do with that is your choice. But if you choose to stay identified with whatever abuse occurred your life will be consumed by such. You will remained controlled by the person who abused you and the abuse itself.

I am tempted to stop here but I won't lest someone come along and misrepresent what I said. I acknowledge that recovery from abuse is a process and I certainly am not suggesting either minimizing it by ignoring it or placing it a different context so one does not have to deal with it as it truly is. I do not pretend to suggest a one-size-fits-all prescription for all circumstances. All cases are unique. What I am clearly issuing is an echo of Susan's post that if, after some time and movement away from the circumstances, you find yourself encased in anger, bitterness, a distorted world view, hysteria and high drama in your life, you in fact have not dealt with it but are fostering it and failing to reconcile your life both psychologically and spiritually.

Wow, Alex, I wish that I had said it this way. You have articulated my own views better than myself. I'm envious. Smile I was wasting my time writing my own previous post while you were doing this. Good job!

Pastor Joe Roof's picture

Do you believe that fundamentalists speak out about sexual abuse issues with the same boldness they do about other issues?

Jay's picture

Pastor Joe Roof wrote:
Do you believe that fundamentalists speak out about sexual abuse issues with the same boldness they do about other issues?

No.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Louise Dan's picture

Not only do we not speak out about this, we have things that we do emphasize that complicate this issue. We really don't like rebellious kids. And a lot of groups are very strict in the early years with kids in an effort for them to learn complete obedience. Yet they should NOT obey all adults at all times. We have to teach our young people when it is good and right to tell an adult, "NO!" We have to stop assuming rebellion if we hear that "NO!" Maybe it is an authority problem. Or maybe there is something deeper going on.

RPittman's picture

Louise Dan wrote:
Not only do we not speak out about this, we have things that we do emphasize that complicate this issue. We really don't like rebellious kids. And a lot of groups are very strict in the early years with kids in an effort for them to learn complete obedience. Yet they should NOT obey all adults at all times. We have to teach our young people when it is good and right to tell an adult, "NO!" We have to stop assuming rebellion if we hear that "NO!" Maybe it is an authority problem. Or maybe there is something deeper going on.
Well, Louise, you are right about our teaching of obedience. Obedience to legitimate authority is correct, proper, and Biblical. However, there is a strain of aberrant teaching on authority stemming from the Bill Gothard craze a quarter century ago. Gothard and his followers believed that one obeys the authority (i.e. an adult) regardless of the command. His umbrella of authority concept taught that one was protected from judgment by God as long as he or she was under the authority's umbrella. The outworking would be that a child should lie if his parent, the authority, told him to lie. The child would not bear responsibility for lying but his responsibility was to obey the authority. This is patently untrue, wrong and not Biblical. All authority ultimately comes from God and one never has the God-given authority to command another to sin because God does not lead us into sin (James 1:13-15). Parents, pastors, and others in authority only have what authority God has delegated to them. Although Gothard's popularity has waned, his influence is continues in Fundamentalism through his warped teaching on authority. Again, we are to be subject where the person has legitimate, God-given authority but we are NOT commanded to obey when the person, although an authority figure, steps outside his God-delegated authority. The answer, I think, lies in how we teach obedience. We must teach our kids to discern the difference between legitimate, God-given authority and usurped, illegitimate authority. No one, even an authority figure, can command one to do wrong.

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

In light of new sex education standards, the presumed innocence of children is IMO going to experience increasing incredulity. Take, for instance, the sex ed standards up for vote in Montana-

Quote:
[URL=http://www.foxnews.com/us/2010/07/14/montana-kindergarten-sex-ed/ Montana Parents Weigh In on Proposed Kindergarten Sex Ed[/URL ]
According to the 62-page draft proposal, beginning in kindergarten, school nurses will teach students proper terms such as < insert specific anatomical terms here > . Once they are promoted to first grade, children will learn that sexual relations could happen between two men or two women. By the time students are 10 years old, instruction will include the various ways people can have intercourse, < insert specific ways here >, according to the proposal.

"As educators and as parents and as communities, we need to be more proactive in helping inform our students at an appropriate age what the risk factors are associated with their own behaviors so that they can make better decisions about their well-being," Dr. Bruce Messinger, the Superintendent of Helena Public Schools, told Fox News.


Do you see the problem? If children as young as 5 and six are being schooled in the specifics of sex, there is no presumed innocence of the child, no pleading ignorance of the details of sexual activity, and quite possibly their testimony is going to be called into question. This shouldn't matter as long as the child is under the age of consent, but I wonder how all this is going to affect how pedophiles and child molesters are treated by the legal system, and how this lost innocence is going to affect the mental and emotional development of children. It's like schools are being given carte blanche to victimize kids, as well as doing away with the age of consent with phrases like "inform our students at an appropriate age what the risk factors are associated with their own behaviors so that they can make better decisions about their well-being". If they can't consent, how is it that they can "make decisions about their (sexual) well being"?

RPittman's picture

Susan R wrote:
In light of new sex education standards, the presumed innocence of children is IMO going to experience increasing incredulity. Take, for instance, the sex ed standards up for vote in Montana-
Quote:
[URL=http://www.foxnews.com/us/2010/07/14/montana-kindergarten-sex-ed/ Montana Parents Weigh In on Proposed Kindergarten Sex Ed[/URL ]
According to the 62-page draft proposal, beginning in kindergarten, school nurses will teach students proper terms such as < insert specific anatomical terms here > . Once they are promoted to first grade, children will learn that sexual relations could happen between two men or two women. By the time students are 10 years old, instruction will include the various ways people can have intercourse, < insert specific ways here >, according to the proposal.

"As educators and as parents and as communities, we need to be more proactive in helping inform our students at an appropriate age what the risk factors are associated with their own behaviors so that they can make better decisions about their well-being," Dr. Bruce Messinger, the Superintendent of Helena Public Schools, told Fox News.


Do you see the problem? If children as young as 5 and six are being schooled in the specifics of sex, there is no presumed innocence of the child, no pleading ignorance of the details of sexual activity, and quite possibly their testimony is going to be called into question. This shouldn't matter as long as the child is under the age of consent, but I wonder how all this is going to affect how pedophiles and child molesters are treated by the legal system, and how this lost innocence is going to affect the mental and emotional development of children. It's like schools are being given carte blanche to victimize kids, as well as doing away with the age of consent with phrases like "inform our students at an appropriate age what the risk factors are associated with their own behaviors so that they can make better decisions about their well-being". If they can't consent, how is it that they can "make decisions about their (sexual) well being"?
The problem is that sex ed advocates see their agenda as a panacea for all sex-related problems. It's wrongheaded thinking to say, "If the kids are properly educated, it will solve our many problems related to sex." They are so short-sighted that they cannot see the ramifications. If anything, this type of proposed program will extenuate the sex-related problems. We already know from a couple of decades of data that sexual activity is being pushed lower and lower into the elementary school partially due to the curiosity aroused by sex education. If the kids know about it, then they want to experiment. Also, sexual stimuli, such as visual images and talk about sex, advances the onset of puberty in girls. Finally, it's ironic that an adult showing sexually explicit images to a minor is guilty of child sexual abuse but the government can authorize its educators to show sexually explicit pictures in the name of education. (BTW, I know the purposes are supposedly different but the actions are similar. Also, how do we know that some of these educators are not pedophiles?)

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

I don't the level of education is that much of a factor from a legal standpoint. That is, the legal theory is rooted in the idea that the power the adult has in the situation removes the possibly of true consensual behavior between them. From a spiritual/sin standpoint (again, a different category from the category of 'crime'), education could be more of a factor, thought the power dynamic is still there.
Part of the power dynamic is the lack of maturity, which is also not affected much by the information, if at all.

I'm for leaving sex out of kid's lives (including the whole notion of "romantic relationships") until they are much older, but I don't think the early ed. really affects these sins/crimes a whole lot. (Edit: want to qualify that a little. Where it might muddy the waters more is in the believability of kid's testimony in these cases. Where they had more "innocence," it was less likely that they'd fabricate something like this. Where they have more awareness of these kinds of acts, and the trouble adults face if accused, there is more potential for false accusation.)

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

Aaron Blumer wrote:
I don't the level of education is that much of a factor from a legal standpoint. That is, the legal theory is rooted in the idea that the power the adult has in the situation removes the possibly of true consensual behavior between them. From a spiritual/sin standpoint (again, a different category from the category of 'crime'), education could be more of a factor, thought the power dynamic is still there.
Part of the power dynamic is the lack of maturity, which is also not affected much by the information, if at all.

I'm for leaving sex out of kid's lives (including the whole notion of "romantic relationships") until they are much older, but I don't think the early ed. really affects these sins/crimes a whole lot. (Edit: want to qualify that a little.

Quote:
Where it might muddy the waters more is in the believability of kid's testimony in these cases. Where they had more "innocence," it was less likely that they'd fabricate something like this. Where they have more awareness of these kinds of acts, and the trouble adults face if accused, there is more potential for false accusation.
)

That's my point. The veracity of a child's testimony in this area has often been predicated on the idea that a child would not make this stuff up, and could not because they didn't have access to sexually explicit information. The kind of sex ed that many schools are proposing is very explicit, and will completely negate this premise.

It also concerns me when a school admin is talking about how kids (and we are talking kids UNDER 10) need to know this information in order to make informed decisions- well, if they can't legally consent, what is the point of giving the information so they can intelligently consent? Doesn't this sound like a setup to anyone but me? I mean, we can say all the livelong day that it shouldn't make a difference, but the fact remains that schools have parental notification policies that often allow them to counsel and treat children without parental consent when it concerns sexual activity. They can give out birth control and advice on safe sexual practices, as well as transporting girls to clinics for abortions- but they don't treat any other physical problem in this manner. I mean, if a child presents with lower right quadrant abdominal pain, does the school diagnose appendicitis, transport the child to the hospital, perform an appendectomy, and send the kid home without notifying the parents? No sirreee- but they sure as shootin' do when it involves removing an unborn child from the body of a young girl.

I'm tellin' ya'll, my Spidey sense is tingling, and when you play connect the dots on this, it creates a very disturbing pattern. Someone is planning on letting this horse out of the corral, and they are removing the fence posts one by one.

Someone.... they.... maybe I should dig that tinfoil helmet outta my closet and see if it still fits.

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