Last weekend Ross and I flew home from Birmingham, AL and watched two movies on the flight. The Post and The Help. Both portrayed heroic courage in the shadow of intimidation, corruption and racism, and illustrated the power in speaking up, telling the truth, and exposing evil.
Scripture tells us in Ephesians 5:11:
Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.
Too often we’ve seen the victims of sexual predators in the church dismissed, not believed, silenced, minimized and shamed. Some have spoken up time and time again and seen no change. Some have just plain given up.
The time has come for those who have been victimized in the church or in church related circles to tell their stories. To be seen. To be heard. To be believed, no matter how well respected the abuser is.
For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household.
1 Peter 4:17a
I have not been the victim of sexual abuse within the church, but I have watched up close and personal the fallout of a respected “pastor” within a religious community (cult) turning out to be a sexual predator and pedophile. And I have watched those who were his “shills” (those loyal to him), defend the abuser and shame the victim.
I have experienced toxic spiritual leaders who used their power and authority to manipulate, silence, and abuse their flock. Using scripture out of context (no discipline seems pleasant at the time, don’t touch God’s anointed, ad nauseum) to justify the abuse.
Well people, this kind of behavior doesn’t just happen in legalistic and twisted Christian cults, it happens in plain sight at Christian writers’ conferences, in children’s church, in places God intended to be safe. Instead, those with evil intent have found it easy to blend in. Say the right words, quote the right scriptures, smile, serve, be caring, earn a position of leadership and power.
Calculating, cunning, and demonic, they take advantage of unsuspecting women and children.
I’m not trying to fear monger or turn us into cynical and suspicious followers of Christ. I’m saying wake up and learn to hear the warnings of the Holy Spirit. Beg God for His discernment. If someone makes you uncomfortable, stay away from them. If you see that creeper acting a little too chummy with someone, begin to dialogue with the possible victim. Ask if anyone asked them to do something they are not comfortable with and suggested they keep quiet about it. Watch their body language. Be a safe person for them to confide in. It just may be the conversation that leads to that predator being exposed.
Do not be shamed into silence if you’ve been the victim of a sexual predator, lest they continue in their shameless and destructive behavior and go on to harm others. Even if it happened a long time ago, it’s never too late to speak up and allow yourself the space to process the pain and humiliation.
I know the pain of being betrayed by those who was supposed to be trustworthy men and women of God. I’ve experienced the way they turned it back on me when I tried to confront the abuse and made me feel like I was the one in sin.
Just remember, the devil quoted scripture out of context to try to get what he wanted. And evil men (and yes, sometimes women) continue to do the same to this day.
Lord, Jesus, I ask that You continue to shine Your light on the deeds of darkness that have been going on for decades within Christian circles across this country. Give us eyes to see and ears to hear TRUTH and give us the courage to stand up and do what is right. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
And to the guilty ones, those predators who might be reading this, mark my words:
What you have said in the dark will be heard in the light. What you have said in a low voice in a closed room will be spoken with a loud voice from the top of houses. (Luke 12:3 NLV)