Sexual Abuse Within the Faith Community
The material immediately below is taken from the volume, REFORMED MEANS MISSIONAL: FOLLOWING JESUS INTO THE WORLD. This volume was compiled by the WRF and will be published by New Growth Press in mid-August, 2013. New Growth's website is here - http://www.newgrowthpress.com/
The specific chapter in which this material appears is entitled Worship and Children: A Missional Response to Child Sexual Abuse,
it was written by WRF member Basyle Tchividjian, the founder and Executive Director of G.R.A.C.E. (Godly Response to Abuse in Christian Environments) and it will also be published as a separate-mini-book for the benefit of the church.
We post this excerpt here because we will shortly be publishing a major statement, signed by many WRF members and others, on the subject of sexual abuse in Christian churches, organizations, and institutions.
[NOTE: This item expresses the views of the individual to whom the item is ascribed and does not necessarily reflect the position of the WRF as a whole.]
In 2009, the United States government substantiated that 10.1 out of every 1,000 children were abused or neglected. An additional 16,676 children died from abuse and neglect. Another study found that thirty-eight percent of women in the United States were molested as children under the age of eighteen, and that between nine and sixteen percent of males in the United States were molested before their eighteenth birthday. With 75 million children in the United States, this translates to almost fifteen million children who will be sexually victimized over the next 18 years.
This crisis is not limited to the United States, but is international in scope, especially with the rise of computer child trafficking and computer crimes. A 2009 study concluded that an estimated 7.9 percent of men and 19.7 percent of women globally experienced sexual abuse prior to the age of eighteen.
It is time for the church to confront this deadly epidemic! God demands nothing less.
Perhaps most tragically, the evils of child sexual abuse are quite prevalent within the Christian community. News reports of children being sexually abused within the faith community are almost a daily occurrence. An older survey conducted by Christian Ministry Resources found that child abuse allegations made against American churches averaged approximately 70 per week. The actual number is likely much higher, since the report only included churches that are insured, and only took into account abuse allegations that were actually reported.
Sadly, we in the evangelical community have largely ignored the sin of child sexual abuse. As a result, Christians have often unwittingly contributed to the suffering of abuse survivors because of our failure to protect children and adequately respond to disclosures of abuse. Additionally, the church has too often overlooked the many needs of those within the congregation who are adult survivors of sexual abuse. The response of the Christian community to the sexual abuse of children all too often pushes these precious souls away from the arms of Jesus and hinders them from experiencing the glorious gospel.
It is time for the Christian community to demonstrate our love and adoration of our God, by loving and protecting precious little ones into the arms of Jesus, regardless of the effort required or the difficult consequences we may face. And it all begins with worship.