Towards a Christian Response to Pedophilia in the Church

The gospel of a broken heart demands the ministry of bleeding hearts…We can never heal the needs we do not feel. Tearless hearts can never be heralds of the passion. We must pity if we would redeem. We must bleed if we would be ministers of the saving blood.   Dr. John Henry J. H. Jowett

sent from a friend

Today I had the distinct pleasure of meeting one of our readers, Eagle, as he was traveling through North Carolina. We had an awesome time, sharing about faith, pain, grace and redemption. When I hear of Christian leaders downplaying the possibility of Christian fellowship via the web, I realize how provincial they are. There is a big world out there, filled with wonderful people and today I met one of them. 

Once again, we are pleading with the church of Jesus Christ to change business as usual and deal with  sexual abuse in an open, honest, (and to draw in the Calvinistas) gospel fashion. The following template is born out of several years of both personal experience and learning of the experiences of families affected by this horrific sin. We ask our readers, many of whom have experienced abuse, to add their thoughts in this matter. 

1. Criminal background checks should be mandatory for all church employees and volunteers.

This should be expected of all churches. In fact, I would not attend a church who did not do this as a matter of routine. However, all churches should understand that these checks only catch those who have been convicted.

2. The police must be notified whenever the possibility of pedophilia exists.

Parents should first report the incident to the police. Rapid input is required to prevent further molestation within the church. Church leaders and members are not trained to determine whether or not an incident constitutes abuse. Most police departments have trained personnel who can assess the situation.

I know of one incident in which a teen reported bizarre behavior on the part of a church volunteer. The church chose to ignore it, calling it "locker room behavior". That pedophile went on to horribly abuse a number of teens for another year until he was caught by police. Many boys deeply suffered at the hands of this pedophile who is now in jail. The church has never apologized to the young man who made the initial report.

3. Leave any church which does not encourage a parent or worker to notify the police.

If a church wants to handle this via "Matthew 18", people are dealing with a church which wishes to cover up the incident. This is blatant misuse of Scripture. Matthew 18 has become the go to verse by many churches who wish to avoid dealing with serious issues.

We are to obey our government. Our government says that pedophile behavior is illegal and must  be punished. Any pastor or leader who says otherwise is disobeying Scripture and should be ignored.

4. Never, ever blame the victim for the abuse.

On Wednesday we will discuss how a 14 year old child was made to repent for allowing a doctor on a mission field to molest her. The young man that I mentioned above was "interrogated" by a terribly deceived ( I am using this word for a purpose) elder who asked him "Didn't you know this was wrong? Why didn't you tell anyone?" We even had someone  call a 10 year old victim, in the Tom White situation,a "Jezebel." This is despicable and shows a warped view of molestation.

It is ALWAYS the fault of the adult, the one in power, for the rape. When one blames the victim, one is revictimizing the hurt child. This is despicable and sinful. Jesus warned us of the severity of punishment that awaits those who would cause a child to stumble. 

5. Keep the main thing, the main thing. Care for the victim is the main thing.

Several years ago, I consulted SNAP, the Survivor's Network of those Abused by Priests, link to assist me in understanding how to handle a pedophile situation in a church. Barbara Dorris, one of the directors, gave me the best piece of advice which I have used in many situations. She said, "Always keep the victim (s) face(s) in front of you. You are doing this to help them. Do not get bogged down in other issues."

That is why we have a a Prime Directive here at TWW. You can find this under The Basics page. It says: "This is the most important term on our blog. Violators of this directive will be looked upon as ideologues, pumping up their particular idol- be it theological or human. This directive states the following: All commenters must acknowledge the pain some people have experienced at the hand of pastors and churches which overemphasize a particular doctrine  or which apply harsh and capricious discipline. TWW exists, in part, to provide understanding in this area. We are dead serious about this (even though it is based on a concept from Star Trek). "

6. The leaders must focus on the victim and leave the "reputation" of the church up to God.

We must do the right thing even if it means that the church gets sued or the reputation of the church in the community is tarnished. We claim to believe in the omnipotence of God but we seem to want to "help Him out." Our job is to do the right thing. God's job is to care for the church.

7. Do not expect the victim or the victim's family to forgive immediately.

True forgiveness takes time. This is a horrific crime which deeply impacts the family and the child.  May I make the observation that anyone who "forgives" immediately is most likely doing so under duress, usually at the hands of misinformed church leaders. Forgiveness in such situations could take years. 

And while they are recuperating, do not call them bitter. Who would not be upset if their child was raped? Ask yourself this question. If you were molested and raped, would you be angry? Sometimes I wonder if our wish for quick forgiveness is because, deep down insid,e we are uncomfortable with anger and pain and want it over with as soon as possible. As one shallow person said to me about the molested boys, "I don't feel called to help them." That's baloney. She just didn't want to deal with it. It was too "uncomfortable." Are we willing to be uncomfortable for one another.

8. Be very cautious about overly focusing on support for the pedophile.

We have seen a number of churches which appear to focus on "helping" the pedophile to the detriment of supporting the victim. Several leaders have said to me that "there will be many pedophiles in heaven." This focus can appear to make the pedophile, who has terribly harmed a victim, a victim himself.Never forget that this pedophile has committed a heinous act. Actually he probably committed many, many heinous acts. The true victims are often marginalized while the pedophile receives visits from the pastors and leaders. 

9. Do not isolate the victim and the victim' s family. Do not blame them for the pedophile's arrest.

I am shocked at the number of people who have been avoided by members of the congregation. Others have felt they were blamed for making the pedophile, often a well liked church member an issue. Many victims have even been accused of making up the story! 

10. Appoint some members of the church to love and support the victim and family.

Churches do a good job of supporting those families who have new babies or a serious illness. Meals are prepared, houses are cleaned, babysitting help, lawn mowing, etc. are often provided. Why is this not available to those who have been through pedophilia?  Make sure it does.

11. The pastors should talk to the church members about showing love and concern for those victimized.

Many people feel awkward in dealing with the family. Perhaps a counselor could assist the pastor in making such a presentation to the church.

12. Do not become angry if the victim and family ask to be left alone. Keep checking on them.

This is a normal response which often lasts just a short period of time. The pastor should make regular contact with the family in order to ascertain when, and if, the family would like support.

13. The congregation should be warned as soon as possible about the abuse.

Parents have the right to know that a pedophile has been in their midst. They should be alerted immediately so they can interview their own children.

14. Do not believe  pedophile who "repents" immediately.

It is important to understand that many pedophiles only show remorse when they are caught. Many claim to be sorry but the recidivism rate is very high. True repentance is shown over time. I saw a well-known local pedophile in a local church. He was wandering around the building I spoke to the pastor about it. He said he was told that the pedophile had repented and was no longer a risk. This man had molested his own children and others for 30 years and spent about 18 months in the clinker. He was told he could not live near children. he found an apartment which was barely two feet over the legal line from a local school. Yet the pastor believe that such a man was now walking the straight and narrow. That pastor, and his leaders, are deceived and naive.

15. Leave any church which refuses to listen to women because "they are easily deceived."

This doctrine is one of the most deceptive teachings found in fundagelical churches today. One only needs to see that men (since women are not allowed in leadership) have mishandled the number of  pedophile incidents that we have reported at TWW. Our blog has proven that these men in these church are gullible and easily deceived. 

We sincerely believe that this doctrine exists to marginalize more than 50% of the body of Christ who have the ability to spot and report pedophile behavior. Any church which espouses this doctrine is a very dangerous environment. We question the motivation behind such a belief and wonder if the churches which teach it do so because the leaders are attempting to "cover up" sin the leadership.

On Wednesday, we will report on an explosive and grossly mishandled pedophile situation by a mission agency. On Thursday, we plan to focus on the "women are gullible and easily deceived" doctrine and show how this dangerous belief creates unsafe churches.

May God have mercy on the church for allowing the pain and suffering of our children to continue. 

Lydia's Corner: Obadiah 1:1-21 Revelation 4:1-11Psalm 132:1-18 Proverbs 29:24-25


Towards a Christian Response to Pedophilia in the Church — 64 Comments

  1. Dee,

    While I am enjoying the Crystal Coast, I am so sorry that I missed the opportunity to meet one of our dear blogging friends.  I'll be back tomorrow. 🙂

  2. Eagle,

    I am sorry I missed meeting you today.  I know you and Dee had quite a bit to talk about.  

    So you're in Kannapolis?  I'm watching the news and seeing how severe the weather was yesterday.  We had a lot of rain here at the beach, but not any damage.  I'm grateful that the power is on!

  3. YOu know what kills me? That your points in your piece do not come natural to churches. I think the reason is people have "pride of place". They want to believe they have supported a good place and bad things don't happen there. So they lash out at the one who has a bad experience (heinous crime). Then they trot out the sinners sin excuse as if we are all walking around molesting people.No big deal. It is surreal.



    Totally off topic. Did you guys see this:


  4. A very important point was left out here. 

    16.  Your church should have a sexual abuse policy that covers all of its members regardless of age.  A policy should spell out what constitutes abuse.    The policy should include  reporting procedures.  This is critical as all problems occur when there aren't  reporting guidelines.  Since the church has no idea who the churchmember will share the abuse to, it is important that every leader, including all pastors, elders, deacons  home group leaders,… be trained and sign a form stating they understand the church's sexual abuse policy and reporting procedures and will abide by those guide lines.

    I find it interesting when people speak of sexual abuse it is always relates to a minor, but sexual abuse is far more prevalent with trusted leaders who take advantage of the vulnerableness of another church adult member.   It is NEVER "mutual consent" when a leader and church member are sexually involved, because it is an imbalence of power.  The guilty leader is soley the one at fault, because it is his or her responsibility  to set proper boudaries.. 

    Most of the time its a male pastor or elder who is taking advantage of a womnn, usually from counseling situations.   She went to the pastor because she needed help.  she poured her heart out. The pastor crosses boundaries when he later tells her that he can share things with her that he can't share with his wife.  Then its long hugs, then a kiss,,,,then more kissing and phone callls and then deeper sexual contact, but the boundary was crossed long before the sex.  The woman eventually wakes up and says she feels dirty and guilty, but the pastor hangs on.  He might even tell her that should she say something it could ruin his career and bring shame on the church and her own life.    But she eventually tells a friend, but of course the friend doesn't believer her becaus pastor so and so would never do something like that.  If she did believe she doesn't want to get involved because she might lose her friends.  But eventually what the woman says gets around and the pastor of course denies everything.   Leadership accuses the woman of making up lies..  She is a troublemaker….probably out to make money from a law suit.  The church eventually takes the side of the  pastor and the woman is treated like an outcast.  She leaves the church (and most often her faith).  This situation and many like it play out every day in churches.  So please include this kind of pastoral abuse and not limit the conversation to just children.  Adults can be just as vulnerable.  I know this from first hand experience.       

  5. Mike-

    What you just described is very close to what happened to a friend of mine at our former church. details differ – her husband was abusive & they were seeing the pastor for 'marriage counseling', Pastor told her 'it was God's will they be together' – would take advantage of times when he found her crying in a corner of the church to 'comfort' her. And there is one difference – she had one friend who believed her. Me. And at the time, it felt like it cost me 'everything' – I had to walk away from that place when they threw her out and set her up to be shunned – and at that time, my whole life was wrapped up in that cult – so was hers. One or two people stayed in contact, but no one in a position of leadership, power or 'influence' there EVER checked to see if we were okay.

    I was molested as a child – and I think that is, in part, why I could see what was really going on – why I believed her. This almost destroyed her. But I am happy to report she is well and her faith in God is stronger than ever. But there are others that we have discovered who were collateral damage – their faith is not so strong.


    These are great policies to have in place. The hard part is convincing people they really need it. Like Anon 1 said, they don't want to believe that bad things could happen in their perfect little church community. No one likes to face the monsters in their midst. It's scary. I know.

    Another problem, though, is that you will never get churches who are run by abusers to do this. The church I walked away from had a policy – if you worked with the children, you had to have a background check. Thing is, it only applied to volunteers – not to the senior leaders. And, as you noted, if they've never been arrested & convicted, they will not show up on a background check. That's why the reporting policy Mike suggested is so important – but again, abusers in leadership will not police themselves. They are above the law.

    A couple years ago, my therapist pushed me to take an online course the Catholic church now requires all its volunteers to take (I had to pretend to be catholic, oh well)…. I'm glad I did. One of the most important things it emphasizes is that it is NOT the job of the clergy or laity of person who has a suspicion to investigate to make sure it is true before they report it. It is the job of the trained investigators to investigate. I had to face this one down within mayself a few years ago when information was shared with me concerning someone I knew and used to work with at this church, I admit, I wrestled with it and did investigate a little – and found corraborative stories from four sources – and called the authorities and reported suspected child sexual abuse…. and it is one of the hardest things I've ever done, even with my own history. And the initial source was so angry with me – tried desparately to talk my out of it because 'it should not be handled by 'the world''. That cost a friendship.

    There is a freakin' big mess in the middle of the church living room and the first step to cleaning it up is getting those in charge to admit it is there. The second step is getting those who are not abusers to admit that some of their peers are.

  6. Mike makes an excellent point about a policy, including a policy that says that any reasonable suspicion should be reported.

    I have dealt with multiple cases of a pastor grooming and then sexually abusing a counselee or church employee.  Both of those create huge liabilities for the church.  And if the victim is shunned, a lawsuit can follow.  And what any good lawyer will tell you, if the pastor is not terminated and another incident happens, kiss the church assets goodbye.

    The other big area is elder abuse.  The statistics on the sexual abuse of elders in nursing homes and home health situations are astounding.  It is a power thing.

    As has been said before, where you find sexual abuse, you will likely find financial abuse and vice versa.


  7. Dee and Deb, I am appreciating this series. thank you. I know some wonderful Christian women who have suffered so much from these experiencs in their past. The church MUST wake up and see how much our dear sisters need healing and love and encouragement from us!

    I wanted to comment on your statement about fellowship via the internet. I have sought to encourgage moms, particularily homeschooling moms who have been caught up in the patriarchy nonsense, for the past 7 years or so via blogs. A couple years ago a pastor "warned" me that these people weren't "real" friends and it wasn't "real" ministry or "real" fellowship. I was incredulous. Some  of the sweetest fellowship I have shared has been with those I have met online. I have met some in real life, have talked on the phone with others, have exchanged prayer requests and MUCH spiritual truth with these dear friends. IMO, it is just another way to lay trips (spiritual abuse0 on those who are burned out on it all.

  8. That Mom,

    We really appreciate your encouragement! Before (and after) we started blogging, I consulted your website for info on patriarchy.  I am grateful for all the work you have done to educate others about this plague on Christendom.

  9. Matt

    You are 100% correct. We need to focus on the response of the church to pastors who abuse their authority and become involved with a woman they are counseling. I know of one story in which this occurred. The church, and the repentant pastor handled it well. he stepped down, underwent deicipline, still attends the church but will never be a pastor again. That might be a good story to tell. Thank you for reminding me.

  10. Anon1

    I really liked that “pride of place.” That is a  good explanation why many people lash out at the victim. These people cannot cope with the fact that their little kingdom is not perfect and they were wrong to think so. So, they get rid of the problem and then they look “nice” again. Problem is: they have missed the netire reason that Jesus came. They are a 
    nice” church, not a Christian church.

  11. Jeanette

    Thank you for sharing the issues at your former church.  You are 100% correct. Churches have no business trying to deterine if the allegtion is true for many reasons.  (Besides the obvious that men are easily deceived  🙂 ), few people are trained specifically in this area and need experts to determine if the report is true. The pastors in a former church assess evident pedophile behavior as “locker room behavior an blew it off.” I believe sandusky has given new meaning to locker room behavior, BTW. By their embarrassingly ppor assessment, they allowed a pedophile to continue to molest for another year and this guy did serious damage.

    Pastors ,elder, deacons, vestry-I don’t care what they are. They are not equipped to “assess” such behavior. The law also makes that clear. Yet they follishly continue to think that somehow God has “gifted” them to do so. Once agaon, who is deceived here?

  12. Eagle

    Many hotels have bed bugs these days, even really good ones. Google it. Do not put your clothing bag on the carpeted floor or bed. When you get home, do not bring your bag and clothes into the house. You will need to wash everything in hot water. The old public health nurse in me emerges.

  13. thatmom

    It is a control thing. Within a church setting, astor control the microphone and the pulpit. They can feed everyone what they want them to believe. The Internet has changed all that and people are starting to ask questions based on blogs. They also meet people like them who have shared similar experiences and soon come to the conclusion that with so many people having simialr problems, they are not alone and are not crazy. That is what the control kings fear.

    Secondly, we agree with you. Wr have met the most wonderful epople online that we never would have run into in our day to day lives in Raleigh. Our lives would have been poorer. God gave us the Internet and it is beginning to change business as usual and churches and pastors will need to adjust.

    As an aside, I have some friends who sit in church and look up what the pastors are preaching. You would be amazed how many times they show problems with the exegesis.

  14. Ha, I love it that the internet is making Bereans of so many! 


    re: patriarchy…..what is the scariest thing for me is that what was considered really weird in normal homeschooling circles became the standard right after the Y2K nuttiness and took off via homescooling conventions etc. And it seens like they became even more strange as time as gone on with all the bartering away of daughters and their virginity etc. ad nauseum.  Now I am seeing these same abhorrent teachings taught from the pulpits of formerly Bible teaching churches. It is astounding…..all these people are swinging down the Vision Forum path (even saw Voddie Baucham staring down at me from the big screen in my own church…freaked me out).

  15. …..(even saw Voddie Baucham staring down at me from the big screen in my own church…freaked me out). — ThatMom


    Dee I think my Microtel Inn may have some bed bugs in this room. This 6′ 3″ former lineman is worried….

    I've usually found Microtel to be pretty good.  One of my favorite places to stay.

    Warning:  the Microtel in Allentown, PA (near Lehigh Valley Airport), changed hands into something called a "Knights Inn" and has gone downhill into a "curry palace" in a state of general disrepair.

  16. One of the things people need to think about is gathering tools to deal with situations that may arise.  One is contact info for a  substantial number of people at your church.

    Imagine if people who are in a controlling church could "grab the ball" and go public with the information that may be twisted against them to shun them.  An abused wife could blast emails to a substantial part of the membership saying "I have been repeatedly abused and I am taking a biblical approach and leaving my husband because he is not living up to Ephesians 5 and does not deserve to be the head of our household."  Then the pastor would have a much harder time carrying out the shunning.

  17. thatmom,

    I cringe when I recall hearing Doug Phillips and Voddie Baucham speak in person.  

    In 1998 I was homeschooling and attended the NCHE convention (big annual gathering in my state). Doug Phillips was the keynote speaker.  He gave a patriotic, pro-family talk which I enjoyed.  Then he pulled a bait and switch by setting up Vision Forum (the same year I heard him) and started peddling patriarchy.  Incidentally, Voddie Baucham was this year's keynote speaker at the NCHE convention.

    I heard Voddie speak in chapel at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary on April 15, 2005. I attended their "Preview Comference" because I was interested in getting an advanced degree.  Circumstances regarding church changed around that time, and I felt it was either not the right choice or the wrong time.

    I've learned so much over the last seven years and am grateful I didn't go in that direction, even though I attended chapel services there quite a bit until 2008 when Dee and I finally started figuring out what was REALLY going on. I think SEBTS has loosened its ties with Baucham and his ilk, but I'm definitely keeping my eyes open.

  18. Perhaps a simple church policy where all visitors receive a background check after their 3rd straight Sunday would lead to greater efficiency and protection.

  19. Voddie is considered the number one choice for keynotes speakers at homeschooling conventions right now. A huge proponent of the FIC, he is the perfect blend of patriocentriicty and ecclesiocentricity. I think there has been some cooling between Voddie and Phillips because I haven't seen him promoted as much as he was at one time.

    I don't know if you all saw this but it is truly an amazing commentary on the fruits of the VF stuff and the sycophants who follow him. You will want to read this…..It is amazing how they have dissembled the information now, too. This Ingrid is sharp!


    As a friend of mine says, there are so many people who are at various mile markers of coming out of the patriarchy movement, these sorts of articles are helpful.


  20. Anon

    And then turn over their computers to do porn checks as well? I am being facetious just as you are.

  21. thatmom

    I could not believe that story. That poor women appears to be used in order to promote a radical view on as many children as possible and back to “tending the hearth” immediately. Something is definitely wrong with this crowd. And she appears to be a victim.

  22. I am so happy to have found your blog (and other blogs as well) that have taken on the whole patriarchy teachings.  I have had lots of exposure to the patriarchy crowd via my homeschooling journey (20 plus years).  It is very affirming to read others with the same concerns and realize I’m not alone!  I really never fit in that crowd and always thought there was something wrong with me or my family.  How freeing it has been to become aware and informed and not be “bullied” by the label “biblical”.  I have found I have an opinion and I’m growing in determination to share it now.  I have to agree with thatmom that there are many coming out of this movement and in various stages.  With the internet, there are safe places for discovery and healing.

  23. Thank you for continuing to bring this issue to the front of discussion.  I would also like to add that we need to be diligent in reporting spousal abuse as well.  I think that churches leaning toward the side of patriarchy is a breeding ground for domestic violence.

    I taught a class at a private Christian college to ministry students that covered domestic violence.  Every single student commented on how they never believed that child abuse of spousal abuse could happen in the church.  I strongly believe that students training to become pastors should be required to take a course on how to recognize and respond to all forms of domestic violence.

  24. An Attorney said: "Imagine if people who are in a controlling church could "grab the ball" and go public with the information that may be twisted against them to shun them"

    With hindsight my husband and I would have done this after leaving our old church where we experienced many of the hallmarks of spiritual abuse. Instead we live with the knowledge that the pastors and elders of our old church told their version of the story and that it has been passed around town and the blogosphere. 

    But the reason that we did not was because we believed, and may still hope, that those who did wrong, those who were "excusers", those who blindly believed the leaders who spoke of us as bitter and unforgiving and slanderers, might some day be convicted of their sin and make right the wrongs. 

    I think our ball is in the rough somewhere and we might manage to chip it out onto the fairway eventually.  





  25. "we believed, and may still hope, that those who did wrong, those who were 'excusers', those who blindly believed the leaders who spoke of us as bitter and unforgiving and slanderers, might some day be convicted of their sin and make right the wrongs."

    Sort of like:

    "Imagine all the people, living life in peace! You-hoo-hoooo may say I'm a dreamer – but I'm not the only one. I hope some day you will join us, and the world will live as one."

  26. gave me a full reimbursement. I was thrilled they owned up to the situation….Why can’t many Christian churches assume responsibility for their actions?

    There's a differenct between customers and fans.

  27. "Imagine all the people, living life in peace! You-hoo-hoooo may say I'm a dreamer – but I'm not the only one. I hope some day you will join us, and the world will live as one."

    LOL – yep, I still have Koolaid stains on my clothes! 

  28. Thatmom said: I think there has been some cooling between Voddie and Phillips because I haven't seen him promoted as much as he was at one time.


    OH YES. Neither one likes to share the limelight.


  29. "An abused wife could blast emails to a substantial part of the membership saying "I have been repeatedly abused and I am taking a biblical approach and leaving my husband because he is not living up to Ephesians 5 and does not deserve to be the head of our household." Then the pastor would have a much harder time carrying out the shunning."


    Bingo.  but it is really hard to get people to do that. But light is always the best disinfectant.

  30. To be honest criminal background checks have there problems and can be misleading. Still not a bad idea.  Reputable references would actually help enhance this in and also how the person handles boundaries.

  31. This is an excellent set of guidelines which I will post to various networks. I am the author of BREAKING THEIR WILL: SHEDDING LIGHT ON RELIGIOUS CHILD MALTREATMENT. Please feel free to get in touch. I am very interested in working with religious organizations and places of worship to help them recognize the warning signs of religiously motivated child abuse and neglect. 

  32. @Anon 1 "Bingo.  but it is really hard to get people to do that. But light is always the best disinfectant." I believe shining the light on this subject is what will eventually stop all the abuse, specifically childhood sexual abuse. It truly is an epidemic and secrecy is what gives the abusers power and the ability to continue. I hate that "the church" seems to be a playground for pedophiles and abusers alike. AWARENESS IS THE BEST PREVENTION. I am so glad to see so many individuals speaking up and speaking out about spiritual and sexual abuse in our churches!

  33. Greetings,

    Thanks for highlighting this hidden and mishandled issue in the church!

    Once one abuse issue is highlighted, it isn't too long before the other abuse issues are named as well.  Yes, the church needs tools and resources to deal with these harmful and devastating issues. 

    It will take an army of people who are passionate about raising the awareness about these issues in the church.  It is a continual battleground and we all have a part in speaking up about what is going on behind the scenes in all too many places.

    Helpful links:;;;   

  34. These are excellent points.  And I like the suggestion of churches adopting a policy of what to do in situations of suspected abuse.

    I believe that the most important suggestion that you have made has to do with Matthew 18.

    I have NEVER seen a situation involving a problem (not just suspected sexual abuse) where Matthew 18 was quoted or used in a healthy fashion.  This issue may be the most important.

    Evangelical churches are by nature committed to biblical revelation and are willing to do things that are counter-cultural in accordance with the biblical mandate.  That is a very important quality.  Obedience to Christ is the central quality of discipleship.

    But it appears that quality, which is good, is so easy to abuse.  Radical obedience to Christ should not cause us to ignore common wisdom.

    Just because police authorities are not mentioned in Matthew 18 does not mean that they should not be involved when potential crimes are involved.  Matthew 18 does not turn the church into an investigative agency and the arm of civil government for the punishment of crimes.

    There are many other verses in the Bible where Jesus acknowledged and approved of governmental civil authority.  Jesus also said some serious things about those who would harm the young.

    It seems that some very basic teaching and introducing hermeneutic principles to churches about looking to all of scripture may be in order.

    I see this misunderstanding all the time in churches.

  35. Dee heaven better be like the NC Museum of Transportation!! It should also have some Wabash, Northern Pacific, and Milwaukee Road!! Hell is probably a Penn Central environment. — Eagle

    Then watch out for the Pennsylvania State Railroad Museum in Strasburg.  It's all Pennsy tuscan red and Penn Central worms in love.

  36. Anonymous –

    I totally agree with you on the use if Matt. 18. That verse is abused by many in leadership.  Sexual abuse (which is a form of physical abuse and is also torture) is probably the second most horrific crime next to murder.  It often destroys the soul of the victim, at least for a time and often for life. It is most often perpetrated by a trusted person.  

    Our society, including  churches, have no problem speaking against rape, which is often perpetrated by a stranger. It seems like sexual abuse would have more devestating affects than rape by a stranger (not saying rape isn't just as difficult to recover from) since it is usually committed by a trusted or familiar person. The victim would not be able  to trust those whom most people can normally trust.  They may not trust themselves to discern whom they can trust. 

    So, why do some churches seem more willing to hide other people's sin and lawlessness when it comes to sexual abuse, and especially sexual abuse of children? Would they hide a murderer and/or cover for them? Would they try to apply Matt. 18?  Would they tell a murdered child's parent to forgive the murderer and accept them back into fellowship? 

    The covering up of child abuse, or any abuse, is putting more value on the life of the perpetrator than on the life of the abused. It is that simple, yet utterly vile. If church leaders don't understand this then they shouldn't be leaders. There should be no sympathizing with the perpetrator, no matter who they may be or how long they may have been a friend. 

  37. You know what is sad?  I won't let my daughter attend a VBS or any other activity at a church unless I am present. There is just too much of this stuff going on. Given the amount that becomes public, one can only imagine how much happens and never gets reported.

    Am I being overprotective?  Perhaps. And when she is a little older (she's five), my perspective might change. But the whole idea of wolves in sheep's clothing has become so much more real to me in recent months that I simply don't think it is worth the risk.

  38. Sallie, I hear you.  I sent my little guys to VBS, but I gave "the talk" before leaving – about appropriate touch, about not going to the bathroom by themselves, that they always can call mama if something doesn't "feel" right.  

    We have a pedophile in our family.  As parents, we must, must share with our children that there may be people <i>anywhere</i> who may want to do something that is evil, whether at church, at school, in the neighborhood, or in the family.  We can't portray these people as "strangers" as most molesters abuse children they know.  They are ordinary looking people, and don't look like a "stranger".  

    I have a friend who was part of an SGM church.  She told me she never let her son go to the restroom by himself anywhere in public, but felt it was pretty safe to do so in church.  Her church happened to be one of the churches which harbored a pedophile.  She was dumbfounded when she discovered that her son could have been one of his victims.  

    The most powerful message is to teach our children to trust their gut.  If they sense something is amiss, they must know they have permission to leave and call us.  I've given my kids permission to say, "I don't feel well, I need to call my mom".  This is not a lie – this is saying their heart is not feeling well.  I tell them I will promptly pick them up without asking any questions until they are in a safe place to talk. 

    My kids are probably sick of this lecture, but at least they know they will always have an out to get help.  Most victims say that they had a "sense" that something bad was going to happen before it happened.  Could it be the Holy Spirit's warning?  Perhaps.  Teaching them to be aware of their feelings/observations will help so they can act appropriately and get out of a potentially dangerous situation.

    Another tool that molesters use is to tell their victims a "secret" – sometimes the secret may be consequences  to the family or to them if the secret is disclosed.  We must also teach our children that it is not appropriate for adults to tell children secrets and that if anyone tells them a secret, they should tell the parents.  

    Giving children tools like these are a proactive way to help children protect themselves (especially when we are not present).  Ignorance is not bliss.  

  39. Sallie,

    I was a very protective mom during my daughters’ growing up years.  I was the Girl Scout leader, VBS helper, choir volunteer, etc etc etc. 

    As I have jokingly said, I was a “professional volunteer”.   I didn’t smother them, but I did keep my eyes wide open.  Not only did I protect my children from harm, but I was concerned about other kids just as much. 

    You just can’t be too careful these days. 

  40. HUG,

    We visited the Railroad Museum in Strasburg during a family vacation to Lancaster years ago.  That was a great trip – we stayed in a Bed and Breakfast there, took a tour with a Mennonite guide, saw the play Abraham and Sarah: A Journey of Love at the Living Waters Theater and Daniel in the Millenium theater, went to Strasburg, spent a day in Hershey Park, and a few other things.  I bought some quilted placemats for our kitchen table at our farm house, and they are still in great shape all these years later.  I would love to go back!  The Millenium Theater was absolutely incredible, and I highly recommend their productions.

  41. Dee, 

    I finally have a little time to read your post on this 4th of July before our BBQ this afternoon.

    I really appreciate your post on Monday and especially item  14. Do not believe  pedophile who "repents" immediately.  Human nature does not change unless the Spirit of God has transformed the heart of the pedophile.  The best way, I think, is to have them arrested, locked up and let the civil authorities handle them to protect others.  Only God knows if the pedophiles have truly repented; and because I do not know, I am suspicious!  The sad thing in our society is that offenders seem to be protected and victims neglected.

    I was abused when I was very young, not sexually, and one knows the pain and the damage when one experiences the abuse by older people.  My heart goes out to the little ones who suffer at the hands of pedophiles and I lament the fact that some churches care much for for their vain reputation than the loss and pain of young children.  We still live in a culture of cover-up, lying and making excuses, don't we?

    When do we all love the truth and expose the lies and the offenses to be rid of evils?  However, I believe all things will come to light, as Jesus said.


  42. You can all imagine how I felt last week when a Facebook friend (who is older than me, has adult kids and ???) said something about Jerry Sandusky – that they hoped he would be "converted."

    As if conversion is going to stop the man from wanting to act on his impulses? As if it somehow cancels out pedophilia?

    Maybe I read too much in to what they said, but honestly, that is naive at *very* best. It's like thinking that a serial killer or rapist would be completely changed by making a profession of faith.


  43. "Am I being overprotective? Perhaps. And when she is a little older (she's five), my perspective might change."

    Hope not, Sallie. I think what you are doing is wonderful.

    My husband doesn't really let our son out of his sight except for school and he is 13!!  Most of the time his friends come here, but we don't keep him from going to certain friend's homes- but you just have to be so careful. There are a handful of friends he can visit at their homes – we know the parents – but realize even that is no safeguard. All we can do is control what we can feasibly control and educate him. We also do not let him go to a church camp type of thing. Any sports camps, practices, etc. he attends my husband goes as well. If hubby cannot stay there at the facility as a volunteer for the camp then he is in a nearby hotel minutets away.

    It hasn't occurred to me to think about if anyone thinks this is overprotective. I know we am doing all we can to keep him safe until he can be on his own more in a couple of years. We are very open with our son and talk to him a lot about predators and pedophiles. I asked him if he minded me being so overprotective and he smiled and said no. I tell him constantly that I want him to be safe and this is the reason for my madness…lol. He seems to understand and it makes him feel safe.

  44. Repentence is the nice word that Christians want to hear in order to give the "green light" to perpetrators.  We tend to want to hurry along and clean up the mess so to speak.  We must not be deceived by  mere talk of repentance.  

    Repentance is shown by a marked change of behavior and safeguards in place:  perpetrator should not expect to ever have a relationship with the victim again.  If there is a relationship, perpetrator automatically allows victim to set the boundaries.  Perpetrator voluntarily puts safeguards in place with regard to being with children, they voluntarily put themself in accountability and also under authority.   

    I know of a one-time offender.  After the offense, he was in tears, actually sobbing.  It was interesting because as he spoke with me about how sorrowful he was, how badly he hurt the individual, he voluntarily set up the above paramenters with no coaching from anyone.  In his mind, he knew there could be a propensity for weakness and knew that as much as he knew himself, he didn't trust himself and needed to have established safeguards.  I highly suspect this offender had his first and last offense.  

    Someone with complete understanding of the destruction they caused to the victim would understand why the above guidelines are necessary. 

  45.  After the offense, he was in tears, actually sobbing.  It was interesting because as he spoke with me about how sorrowful he was, how badly he hurt the individual, he voluntarily set up the above paramenters with no coaching from anyone.

    Sorry, guys, my upbringing included a Sweet Little Angel of a brother with probable undiagnosed BPD & NPD.  When he got caught, he was also "in tears, actually sobbing" with such Genuine Remorse — until the instant Mom or Dad turned their attention away from him. 

    Then CLICK! Off like a light switch, replaced by this smug sneer until the instant he was back in their line-of-sight. 

    Then CLICK! Back on with the waterworks.

  46. So, why do some churches seem more willing to hide other people's sin and lawlessness when it comes to sexual abuse, and especially sexual abuse of children? Would they hide a murderer and/or cover for them? Would they try to apply Matt. 18?  Would they tell a murdered child's parent to forgive the murderer and accept them back into fellowship? — Bridget

    Because a successful pedophile (or any similar predator) is a master at hiding what they are and gaining the trust of any sheepdogs guarding the fold.  If they didn't, they'd have been caught long ago.

    The "Grooming" process doesn't just apply to their primary targets.  A different style of "Grooming" is done to the guardians and authority figures to gain their trust, access to the primary targets, and protection from amything unpleasant if caught.  (Shifting blame to the victim is a common tactic.) 

    Remember the serial killers where everyone who knew the serial killer spoke "what a Nice man he was; wouldn't hurt a fly"?  Because a successful predator is a master of camouflage.  That's why he's successful.

  47. True repentance does not demand acceptance.

    In other words, if someone is truly repentant, they will not demand nor even expect forgiveness or acceptance. In fact, true repentance recognizes that neither is deserved…..

  48. "Sorry, guys, my upbringing included a Sweet Little Angel of a brother with probable undiagnosed BPD & NPD. When he got caught, he was also "in tears, actually sobbing" with such Genuine Remorse — until the instant Mom or Dad turned their attention away from him.

    Then CLICK! Off like a light switch, replaced by this smug sneer until the instant he was back in their line-of-sight."


    Yep. KNow the type well.

  49. Yep. Know the type well. — Anon1

    And that's why I'm usually pretty cynical about repentance — especially the spectacular remorse trappings you find among Evangelicals.  Because I've seen how a sociopath can game the system.

  50. Expecting a victim to email blast her situation to the church is extremely naive and shows a woeful ignorance of the dynamics of abuse. 

  51. Rebecca,

    I do know the dynamics of abuse.  I work with abused women, representing them to try to keep their kids when their abuser sues for custody, to get some of the assets of the couple for the abused instead of all going to the abuser.  (I charge no up front fee, and ask only that they pay me $50 or $100 a month for a total bill that is less than half the usual family law fee in the town I live in.  To do that, I live in a poor part of town and net less from my law practice than a school teacher earns, while paying off over $50,000 in law school debt.)

    All I was suggesting is that, if you are in a church that shuns people and you are leaving an abusive spouse, part of your planning could be to pre-empt the shunning.   BTW, any responsible counselor tells an abused person to plan for leaving, collecting account information, car titles, deed on the home, jewelry and other valuables, marriage license, passport, insurance policies, etc., so that when leaving, you will not be stranded.

    It is also that case that most states, even Texas, have really great laws that provide wonderful benefits for an abused person leaving an abuser.  But that requires some forethought and planning, and a cooperative police department, which greatly depends on the jurisdiction.  Most who file for the protective order miss out on a lot, including getting the residence, controlling the joint bank account, getting one of the cars, keeping the kids, requiring abuser to get counseling and training for anger management, etc., etc.  Why not protect one's relationship with some friends from church?  

  52. I agree wtih all, but I would suggest that #10 (appointing church members to care for those affected by sexual abuse) be done on the terms of those who have been victimized. Also, I'd suggest that churches be proactive about training parents on how to talk to their kids about sexual abuse, before any situation arises. If a situation does come up, the church should have a counselor instruct parents about how to talk to their kids about the specific incident.

    I just want to add, as a child of a pedophile, it would also be great if the church reached out to the pedophile's family. It's a pretty lonely road.

  53. My2Cents

    Thank you for you awesome suggestions. if you would ever be interested in writing a post as the family memeber of  pedophile, please let us know via our emails. My heart goes out to you.

  54. I’d like to see a “Truth in Leadership” form for churches similar to the standardized “Truth in Lending” forms for banks. These points about abuse plus additional ones about how conflict is handled by leaders, how much accountability is involved with finances, how are decisions made and by whom, etc. so that a higher standard of transparency would become expected and we could all make more informed decisions about where to worship.

  55. Martha

    Let me tell you a true story. Hubby and I joined a former church after reading thoroughly the statement of belief and all sorts of additional material. A few years down the line, we were teaching a Sunday school class and decided to have a debate on creationism. We were warned by some folks in the class that said church did not take kindly to those who did not toe the young earth line. We blew off the warning because we had read all known documents. Well, the lightening bolts descended from on high. We immediately met with the head pastor who informed us that they only taught young earth at the church. We asked why this wasn’t written somewhere. The stupid answer? Because he didn’t want to prevent people from joining the church over this.

    So, instead, they get you and your money and then beat you up. I no longer believe any church documents and have resolved never to join another church until I have observed it for years, if then.

  56. Martha

    Addendum: had we known about this in advance, we would have toodled on to another church and never joined it. So, we got beat up for something we could not have known. Some Christians pastors are just plumb asinine.

  57. How about we keep each church’s Truth in Leadership forms online where their veracity can be viewed and discussed freely? I’m thinking along the lines of the League of Women Voters election guides….even when a candidate refuses to answer certain questions, you can learn much. Honest churches

  58. …will not fear transparency and the churches that are trying to hide certain truths in order to fleece the flock will be revealed. You could post your experience about getting beat up at the young earth church. Hopefully, there are churches that allow discussions which include other positions besides what the head pastor teaches and those of us who value that, could find out where they are.

  59. , a real relationship with God is of great imorctanpe and is probably going to be a major focus of this ministry. Thanks again for the feedback and may God continue to work through you and bless you.In Christ,Ryan