Here are the differences between pedophiles and molesters. The one thing they have in common: they don’t change.
Let’s compare myth to facts and learn signs that an adult may be targeting a child for sexual reasons. Also learn how to respond to a child’s disclosure of abuse.
In light of the R. Kelly headlines: Read the different ways abusers react when confronted and study their team playbook. Should you believe them? Is letting them off the hook showing grace…after all, aren’t grace and forgiveness biblical concepts?
I’ve wanted to address teachings sometimes heard in the church regarding marital abuse because it is this type of teaching that kept me and countless other Christian sisters in abusive marriages. I didn’t know if I would make it out alive, but did. Some women and children haven’t made it out alive.
This week John Piper once again made the news for his views on women, and why some men abuse women; doctrinal differences. He addresses reasons for cases of widespread abuse being reported in the news.
Cases that have recently been in the headlines include, but unfortunately are not limited to:
- Bill Cosby sexual assault and rape law suits include 58 alleged victims, 19 of which will be testifying against him in court. Jury selection for the Cosby trial is set to begin March 29 at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pa. The trial is scheduled for April 2.
- Harvey Weinstein is an American film producer and executive who is currently under investigation for multiple sexual assaults of at least 80 women which spanned 30 years. This scandal triggered similar allegations against powerful men around the world. It spurred the #MeToo movement.
- Sovereign Grace Ministries had multiple recorded cover-ups of sexual assault and rapes committed against children in their care.
- Saeed Abidni whose wife, Naghmeh Panahi, left him for proven allegations of domestic abuse, and unfaithfulness was recently arrested for violating a no-contact order.
- Andy Savage who is the teaching pastor at Highpoint Church in Memphis, TN sexually assaulted a girl in his youth group when he was a youth pastor 20 years ago. The staff at Highpoint supports and is attempting to save Savage’s ministry.
- Cases against Bill Gothard (and his board), founder of the Institute in Basic Life Principles. This was a ministry where teens left their homes to live at headquarters to help with ministry opportunities. With my background, I still find it disturbing that an unmarried single man ran a ministry where he had constant unsupervised time alone with individual students. This is child safety and ministry safety 101 at any Christian based institution and has been for decades: For the students’ protection they are to NEVER be left alone with one person. There is safety in numbers. (Unfortunately many pastors, staff, and teachers don’t adhere to this safety measure).
- The Catholic Church has been plagued with child sexual abuse cases for decades.
- Josh Duggar: Ashley Madison scandal and reports of child sexual molestation.
- The wife of Pastor Greg Locke of Global Vision Bible Church in Mount Juliet, Tennessee left him and is living in a shelter for safety and provisions. Although Greg Locke denies any wrong doing on his part I’ve read the hateful, scathing text messages he sent his wife about her weight, her looks, his disdain for her, and in which he used profane language against her. He was having a reported, emotional if not physical, relationship with his wife’s best friend who is also his secretary.
- Ravi Zacharias sexual grooming relationship with a woman not his wife. This case was settled out of court and neither side can legally speak about it. This is convenient for Ravi because I was sent some of the text messages/emails and there is no way he can conveniently talk his way out of his wrong doing. I won’t ever be able to listen to him teach again knowing what he wrote. Some of it was sinful and some of it was weird, but all of it was an abuse of his ministry position.
- Doug Wilson: I could write a book on the wrong theology of Doug Wilson and his wrongly placed allegiance to pedophiles who have attended his church. A 13 year old girl congregant was groomed, assaulted, and raped by a man from the church. Doug placed blame on the child because she was tall for her age, well developed for her age, and mature for her age. Doug Wilson preformed a wedding ceremony so a known pedophile at the church could marry a young woman from the church. It didn’t end well.
- I receive correspondence from pastor’s wives and missionary’s wives around the world who tell of abuse they suffer from their husbands.
- I minister to around 25 women in my area, the Christian homeschool community, who are living through or leaving severe abuse from their husbands.
- Rachael Denhollander was the first woman to publicly accuse USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar (associated with Michigan State University) of sexually abusing her as a teenager, a case that led to more than 250 other victims coming forward for their day in court.
Rachael is a Christian who received her law degree from the Christian Oak Brook College of Law. This makes her the best credentialed child sexual abuse survivor to lead the charge in ridding our churches and institutions of predators, and teaching the public to always: believe the children first, contact the authorities second, and allow the law to sort it out.
Let me begin by stating my disagreement with Piper’s recent teaching in his article: Sex abuse allegations and the egalitarian myth. Piper’s argument is that the egalitarian doctrine, which teaches all people are equal in fundamental worth and social status and deserve equal rights and opportunities, has led to men becoming abusers since he doesn’t believe this is the way God intended men and women to function.
I highly disagree with his reasoning. Abuse is not a theological/doctrinal or marriage problem. It is an abuse problem. I find absolutely no scripture to back Piper’s claim. Jesus calls sin; sin.
Dear beloved church,
We must do better.
To be continued…
Afer all if we buy into, “Boys will be boys” we are reinforceing “Girls have no humanity; they’re just objects.”
In case you haven’t seen the headline I’ll fill you in on yet another spiritual battle taking place in the church.
I‘m referring to the applause of a crowd that was unfortunately heard around the globe, and no one was listening more intently than abuse survivors and non-Christians. It was sad, it was wrong, and as an abuse survivor I can tell you; in a way it revictimized many souls.
It involves Andy Savage, the teaching pastor at Highpoint Church in Memphis, TN. According to the church website “Andy’s personal mission statement is, ‘Making God make sense, starting at home then everywhere else.’ Whether Andy is teaching, writing, or relationship coaching, Andy strives to live out his life’s passion of creatively communicating God’s truth in a way that connects with people where they are. Andy teaches every Sunday at one of three Highpoint campuses and is the lead visionary for marriage, parenting, and family life ministry. He is also a national speaker, the author of multiple books, and host of the Andy Savage Radio Show and podcast.”
I understand mistakes and the folly of youth. Seriously, I regretfully took many field trips dedicated to the foolishness of youth. This sexual assault case goes beyond a youthful mistake. Even if it were consensual, which it wasn’t according to the victim and the church in Texas, Texas law considered the age difference and the act a felony, and the Bible considers it sin.
What concerns me about the Andy Savage situation is that over the years he has so easily disassociated from his deception. These types of people are the ones who can be the most spiritually, physically, and sexually dangerous.
I can’t imagine how difficult this is for Mr. Savage’s wife. From past experience I can make an educated guess and deduct that if she had heard anything about it; it didn’t begin to resemble the truth.
Here are 14 points the church needs to understand:
1) Most churches error on this: The church body tends to value the institution (church) above the safety and health of the one who is/was being abused. Most of all, the church is valuing the institution over Jesus.
2) “She said that a pastor of the church, The Woodlands Parkway Baptist Church, urged her to stay quiet when she told him what had happened. Instead of telling her to inform the authorities, he told her that the church would address the episode internally.” This is typical. The church believes they need to protect the reputation of the church and of Jesus. They often use the scripture from 1 Corinthians 6 about not taking a believer to court. This amounts to incorrectly applying scripture. The church’s responsibility was to call law enforcement and allow them to investigate. It was also the church’s job to remove Andy Savage from ministry and follow-up on any new ministry Andy Savage attempted to gain.
3) There is a huge difference between forgiveness and restoration of relationship; personally or professionally.
4) Any church leader or staff, regardless of age, who sexually victimizes another person, should never again be in a position of leadership. (I Timothy 3 & Ephesians 5:3)
5) If you are informed about a past sexual ‘incident’ or abuse by a church leader it is NOT appropriate to give the said church leader a standing ovation. For any reason…ever!
6) If you are informed about a past sexual ‘incident’ or abuse by a church leader it is ALSO NOT appropriate to justify or make minimizing statements about the victim.
7) Andy Savage went against scripture and went against church policy yet the church partially blamed her. No! He was her youth leader. He committed a crime.
8) “When a person tells factually true things to cast an impression that they know to be false, they’re lying even though everything they’ve said is true. And they KNOW they are lying.” Dr. George Simon Jr., PhD. clinical psychologist with decades of experience working w/ abusers.
9) After Andy finished addressing the congregation, church members stood and applauded him for about 20 seconds. The lead pastor at Highpoint, Chris Conlee, told the congregation that he supported Mr. Savage, who he said was one of the people “hurt by the ripple effect of the consequences of that sin.” I wonder if Pastor Conlee understands the depth of the problem? He should be supporting Andy Savage in resigning from the ministry and directing him and his wife to excellent counseling. For Mrs. Savage, I highly recommend Christ centered counselor Leslie Vernick who is accessible on the internet, and/or Patrick Doyle who can be found on YouTube.
10) Church, I understand that you may have been replying, “We love you too” when you gave the standing ovation. Andy closed with, “I love you all very much,” at which point, you, the congregation rose to applaud. I imagine you didn’t mean to applaud a sexual crime. But it still gave painful implications. When is the church going to stop with harsh judgments and quick grace at the wrong time and places? This deeply wounds victims of sexual abuse, marital unfaithfulness, and domestic violence.
11) If Andy Savage were truly repentant he would stop defending himself. His goal would be to cause no further harm to the victim.
12) I often see defendants in abuse cases use spiritual language as a powerful weapon of deception.
13) After watching the church service and comparing it to his radio interview, I don’t think he fully acknowledges his actions, plus he admitted to lying. It sounds like he is grasping to hold on to his position at this mega church and the prestige that comes with the position.
14) Church, we need to avoid cliché sayings like, ‘it was a long time ago.’ We need to support the victim and hold the defendant responsible. We must be better at handling abuse allegations and admissions.
The below video shows the conversation I’m referring to in minutes 12:00 – 22:45
12:00 – 22:45
The pastor tearfully informs his congregation that what they “witness today will give you incredible confidence in what love is all about. I pray that what you witness today will give you hope that healing is available for every single person.” The pastor then goes on to implore people to listen to everything before they evaluate what they hear because it will touch emotions, feelings, and the heart strongly.
This isn’t about processing emotions or working through phases of the issue. It was wrong. It was unlawful. Andy Savage should not be in the ministry. I highly question the leadership of anyone who handles sexual misconduct by saying we can find ways to agree and work this out. There is room to disagree? Why does anyone need to respect Andy Savage and welcome him on the church staff? I know I’ve walked this road longer than most people, but I’m exhausted from the church not recognizing the sin while making excuses for it. Church, we must do better! I don’t believe in a pastor using their power to encourage the congregation to ignore scripture and gloss over felony law breaking, sin, and abuse of leadership power. Yes, the church wants to facilitate the healing of brokenness in people’s lives. But…healing and restoration do not equal restored relationship with a person or with their place of employment/ministry. Yes, Pastor Conlee, love does cover a multitude of sins but it is wrongly applied to illegal sexual conduct by church staff against a student. Love does not equal acceptance of the abuser in a continued ministry position, or the acceptance of the abuse!
I could go on for pages about the gross misapplication of scriptures in this case. I could commentate for hours on the discrepancies found by comparing the recorded church service to the interview of Andy Savage conducted by Ben Ferguson. Why? For starters Mr. Savage originally lied to his church staff and lied to the girl’s parents. His story changed as the progression of facts were revealed. His interviews from Sunday and The Ben Ferguson Radio Show don’t add up to truth. We go back to a foundational fact: When we tell the truth we can remember what we said. When we lie…well…we can’t remember what we said and therefore get caught up in deceit, explanations, word spinning, justifying, spiritualizing, and denial.
I love the church. God can truly use the church to encourage us, grow us, and shape us—but I hate it when God’s children are abused by church people. I will never defend a man who has abused his leadership position of power to harm a girl or woman’s heart, soul, mind, or strength.
“In order to escape accountability for his crimes, the perpetrator does everything in his power to promote forgetting. Secrecy and silence are the perpetrator’s first line of defense. If secrecy fails, the perpetrator attacks the credibility of his victim. If he cannot silence her absolutely, he tries to make sure that no one listens. To this end, he marshals an impressive array of arguments, from the most blatant denial to the most sophisticated and elegant rationalization. After every atrocity one can expect to hear the same predictable apologies: it never happened; the victim lies; the victim exaggerates; the victim brought it upon herself; and in any case it is time to forget the past and move on. The more powerful the perpetrator, the greater is his prerogative to name and define reality, and the more completely his arguments prevail.”
Trauma and Recovery, by Judith Herman Photo credit to Sarah Faith Hodges
“When someone gropes your body, they grab a bit of your soul, the part of you that speaks, and it can take years, decades, for you to gather up the pieces of your voice and slice the silence with truth.”
Lastly, if you want to be better trained in how to handle situations like these I highly recommend Christ centered counselor Leslie Vernick who trains church leaders and counselors to recognize and respond to abusive behaviors. She also helps you minister to those who have been traumatized by abusers. An organization that will come in to churches and train staff and lay leaders is G.R.A.C.E. Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment.
Are we moved by past friendship, loyalty, sympathy and fear for the accused or by the distress, pain and heartache of the children? Make certain your compassion is properly placed and driven by love of truth and justice for sweet innocent children.
In light of the recent guilty verdict I witnessed in a court of law against a pastor who was on trial for violating two young boys, the topic of being an abuse survivor is weighing heavily on my mind.
Few people would purposefully say something thoughtless, judgmental, wrong or hurtful to a heart already aching from abuse. It might be more likely that someone would say something out of ignorance or from not knowing there was an abuse survivor in their midst.
We do not want to add toxic thoughts, attitudes or words to an already hurting heart. We want to participate in their healing; not in reinjuring a deep hurt or scar.
This is likely not a topic or issue you have considered. I know I have not purposefully thought through how to be kindhearted and sympathetic to victims so when I read Sarah Bessey’s post, 21 Sentences NOT to Say to a Sexual Abuse Survivor by Mary DeMuth I knew I wanted to share these caring thoughts with my readers.
Read: 21 Sentences NOT to Say to a Sexual Abuse Survivor http://sarahbessey.com/21-things-shouldnt-said-sexual-abuse-victims-guest-post-mary-demuth/
Mary DeMuth is a well-known author who last week weighed in on the recent Leadership Journal controversy. Last week LJ posted the story of a former youth pastor who was convicted of statutory rape with a girl, twelve years younger than him, in his youth group. I read the article and it was clear that the youth pastor had no remorse for his actions and considered the relationship consensual. In my opinion he had strong indicators of being a narcissistic/sociopathic type individual and did not own up to the spiritual harm brought to his wife, his children, the victim, the church or the youth group. I considered LJ lacking in discernment for posting the article. To me this was one more reason sexual predators find the church an easy place to hide for preying upon victims. After many caring and concerned readers made comments asking LJ to remove the post, (many whose comments LJ removed) and many more readers who began a #TakeDownThatPost campaign; LJ decided to remove the post. One of the most compelling letters showing LJ their lapse of judgment for posting the article was submitted by Mary DeMuth.
You may read her letter “Dear Man in Prison,” here:
Check out Mary DeMuth’s newest book: Not Marked: Finding Hope and Healing after Sexual Abuse.
Intervention occurs as a means to involve yourself in a person’s life. Your goal is to alter their life, and your relationship with them, for the better. It will most likely come across as threatening and forceful to them, in a negative way, so great care needs to be taken in order to help them understand it is for their good, short term and long term.
Intervention is greatly enhanced by the help of persons close to them; such as mentors, friends, family members or respected leaders. They need to be people who have noticed throughout their relational history that something is strangely amiss. I do not recommend enlisting the help of a boss or supervisor; unless this is a work place intervention being used for the purpose of helping the toxic person remain employed.
This will be a sensitive issue to deal with because it means positioning yourself to be vulnerable before someone who may say, “No,” or who may sound a warning to your toxic person. Prayer is of the utmost importance. Ask God what His heart and will is for this intervention and petition it in the name of Jesus. After God confirms through scripture, prayer or a godly friend that this is the path He has for you; find safe, sincere and helpful people who have your best interest at heart and your toxic person’s best interest at heart.
I must remind you that I am not a professional. I am simply passing on situations I have lived through and life lessons from which I have learned. Seeking godly professional help or prayer support is a wise choice before beginning an intervention.
The intervention may require paying travel expenses for, and/or providing food and lodging for, your support help. Ideally this will not be provided in your home if the intervention is for your spouse.
Make a list of applicable concerns, grievances, infidelities, hurtful behaviors or possible mental illnesses. Your goal is to bring the person to repentance, restore the relationship and provide emotional healing. Make a list of behaviors which must stop immediately. Include the requirement of seeking godly professional help immediately. It would be sensible on your part to have already located names and phone numbers for professionals in your area. If you need help locating godly help go the right margin of my blog and locate: Resources. Click on Counseling Service & Referrals: One Time/Complimentary. You may arrange to speak to a licensed Christian Counselor at Focus on the Family. Focus on the Family also keeps a data base of professionals in your area. In your letter include goals, and dates you expect them to be met by. An intervention cannot be left open ended or it will have been implemented in vain. If the intervention is for your spouse you may also prayerfully consider mentioning a therapeutic legal separation if the conditions in the letter are not met.
The goal is to always be moving forward. Always be growing closer to Christ. If it be up to you; Satan WILL NOT WIN this battle which means every morning when you wake up; you must put on the FULL armor of Christ. Pray it to God and ask Him to arm you with it: I have rewritten Ephesians 6:10-18 a bit to make it personal as you pray: “Finally, I will be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. I am putting on the full armor of God, so that I can take my stand against the devil’s schemes. For my struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore I am putting on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, I may be able to stand my ground, and after I have done everything, to stand. I will stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around my waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with my feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, I take up the shield of faith, with which I can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. I take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
“And I pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, I am alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” (NIV)
Prayer and fasting are necessary before undertaking an intervention. Ask your helpers, and a close friend and family member, to commit to fasting one day a week with you for the purpose of a successful intervention.
Intervention can take place at a counselor’s office, in your home (if the intervention is for your spouse), or in the person’s home.
Have with you the people helping you and have a copy of your letter for each person in attendance. This makes it clear that the situation requires accountability.
You may have to be clever in arranging the meeting. Your person should have no previous knowledge as to what is about to take place. Set the day, time and meeting place. This may be easy or this may require calling them home from work for help with an urgent need.
Read the letter. Allow a time for questions and answers if the person desires it.
Have a hand written note assuring them of your good intentions, stubborn love and unwavering concern. Encourage them to do the hard thing and seek help by reminding them of what is at stake. Lastly remind them that your mind is resolute and the letter is not debatable. Excuse yourself from the meeting and leave the (unread) note with the person.
If your toxic person is your spouse, you will be wise to have sleeping arrangements elsewhere for the next two to three days while they decide their response. In your hand written note; let them know when you will return.
Have your intervention helpers stay behind. It is important to have more than one helper; two is plenty. Remember there is power in numbers. They can ask the person how they are feeling, what they are thinking, and if they understand the letter. They could even lighten it up a bit by offering to go to a restaurant to eat together.
Hopefully your helpers will let you know how your person received the letter. Were they remorseful, repentant, angry, aggravated, or completely in denial? If your helpers report back something like: Your person said you have a lot of problems and you are simply mad at them about ________ or ________ (you fill in the blank) but they are willing to give you the time you need to get over whatever problems you have; then you have a long messy road ahead of you. Toxic people tend to be in complete denial; and even worse, they are good at undermining others, manipulating them and putting on such a grand act that anyone would believe their side of the story. Even if they are in denial they may still be open to professional help for the sake of saving the relationship and they may attempt to meet your requirements and goals. This is good so seek all the help available while you can.
If possible pray out loud, together, with the person you are providing intervention for. I would like to say that Christ will not allow your relationship to deteriorate when the two of you are actively seeking His heart and will together. But since many toxic people are suffering from personality disorders even praying together can yield no change in their attitude, behavior or sin.
The most mind-boggling prayer can be praying with someone who has Narcissistic Personality Disorder. You can certainly be left feeling like a crazy person. They may be sexually, physically and/or emotionally abusive to you but when you hear them pray they sound like they are sitting at the throne of God. You wonder how these two extreme opposites can come out of the same person/personality. This is crazy making at its finest because upon hearing their prayer you may feel like you are, without doubt, the person in need of serious professional help. This is where journaling will help because you will have a written record of their behavior instead of wondering if you dreamed it or made it up. (For more information on Narcissistic Personality Disorder and crazy making; read through earlier ‘Toxic Tuesday’ posts.)
If you are interacting in this type of relationship the enemy is undoubtedly trying to destroy your life and the life of those you love. It is essential for you to pray truth (scripture) to God for provision, protection and guidance.
Needless to say, if you have not experienced interacting with an extreme toxic/foolish person you have no idea as to what I am referring. Good for you—praise God—football stadium type cheering and foot stomping. I am happy for you!
For you who are in a seemingly impossible toxic relationship, certain you may lose your sanity; take heart. Study your Bible. Pray. Christ will not leave you alone in your despair. Remember: Your work is prayer. God’s work is what He does on behalf of your prayers. This means when you are in total hopelessness you must call out to God in prayer. He will not leave you there; alone. He will lift your head, put you back together, stand you up, dust you off and give you strength for one more day. He will do this for you. Every—Single—Day. Ask for it.
A toxic person’s behavior can be made worse when they feel helpless or trapped. If your life is in danger or you think these responses could place your life in danger use your good judgment and refrain from possibly making the situation worse. If you are in danger please leave immediately and seek help. In the right margin of my blog you will find links to articles on abusive relationships and a link for those who are victims of domestic abuse.
At times I felt as though God held my hand as I skimmed the surface of hell begging and pleading with my person to leave their sin, make things right, do the hard thing, seek help, choose their family and their God; not their messed up life and their vocation.
Nothing crushes your spirit more than abuse.
We have to deal with abuse because it is contagious and gets passed on from generation to generation.
Crazymaking: Part 2 of Breaking Free from Abuse Here are notes I took yesterday from Pastor Rick Warren’s September series You Make Me Crazy. If you know a crazymaker or are a crazymaker God has much to say about abusive circumstances. No matter how bad your circumstances are you can count on God’s love and God’s power to break free from the abuse. David describes 92 times in scripture what abusers do and what they use against and over you. Breaking Free from Abuse: Part 2 1. Aggravation: taunting, picking on, provoking Jesus: “The truth will set you free.” John 8:32 David: “I said, ‘I will not say anything while evil people are near.’ So I kept quiet, not saying a word… but my suffering only grew worse, and I was overcome with anxiety. The more I thought, the more troubled I became; I could not keep from asking: ‘Lord, how long will I live? When will I die? Tell me how soon my
This is for sweet women suffering in abusive relationships who need to know God is on their side; I am too and I am praying for you.
If you or someone you know is suffering from physical, sexual, verbal or emotional abuse you need to realize, “The damage of abuse is lifetime damage unless you deal with it.” Don’t keep it secret. Name the abuse. “Revealing your feeling is the beginning of healing.” THE TRUTH WILL SET YOU FREE. Share your pain with someone you TRUST.
Pastor Rick Warren has a heart for the Lord and a heart for the Lord’s people. Listen to Pastor Rick’s heart for women caught in abusive relationships. http://www.oneplace.com/ministries/daily-hope/listen/breaking-free-from-abuse-part-1-362323.html