The Carnage of Child Sex Abuse
I recently returned from South Africa. We saw giraffes with their impossibly long necks. And a herd of elephants rolling in the mud (to get clean?). A black rhino blocked our path, larger than two SUVs. Barb held and petted a baby lion. And we watched transfixed as three whales swam round and round our boat as it bobbed in the Indian Ocean.
We toured the famed Garden Route along the southern coast of Africa. Absolutely beautiful landscape, exotic flowers and plants, and the blue sea of the lagoon at Knysna. I was moved again by the wonder and beauty of the world God has created.
And then we came face to face with the horror that the creature, man, has created.
Part of my reason for being in South Africa was to co-host a world conference on sex trafficking and gender violence organized by the theological faculty of Northwest University and the World Reformed Fellowship. Northwest University is an influential South African school of 65,000 students. World Reformed Fellowship is a significant networking organization that covers all six continents and links churches, organizations, and leaders within the evangelical Reformed branch of the church.
The conference shined a spotlight on child abuse. The keynote speaker was Dr. Diane Langberg, a renowned psychologist from Philadelphia who specializes in treating victims of abuse. She is in demand as a speaker all over the world. Also featured was Jim Gamble, former head of counter terrorism for the United Kingdom and former head of Special Branch who now leads an international organization that battles child abuse across the globe.
Amnesty International reports that there are 250,000 child soldiers pressed into various wars. A quarter of them are little girls. A third of them, if war were not trauma enough, are abused or forced into sex.
In the United States one in six girls is sexually abused before the age of eighteen. In Africa as a whole, somewhere between 35 to 50 percent are abused. Across the world, thousands of children are enslaved for use as organ donors. Think we have a problem?
Add this to it: There is more money generated by child porn in the United States than by ubiquitous adult porn. And while technology makes pornography more easily available, the real problem is people. Pedophiles lie. One recent study interviewed 155 convicted pedophiles. Initially 20 percent admitted contact with 75 victims. After a year of interviews, the number admitting to molesting a child jumped to 85 percent. And the number of victims soared to 777. Multiply that by the untold numbers of pedophiles lurking in this country.
A pedophile rarely kidnaps a child off the street. Their preferred mode of operation is to infiltrate a group of good people--a church, a sports camp, a family center. They identify the most vulnerable children. They isolate them. They groom them. They molest them. They terrify them into silence.
Damn them. Expose them. Arrest them. Put them in a place where they can never again touch a child. And make sure that no child in your circle can be exposed to exploitation.
No sin is so awful that it cannot be forgiven through the payment Christ made on the cross. So there may be hope for a truly repentant pedophile, if one exists. But let not one of us be complicit in the sin of abusing children by our silence, our complacency, or our failure to heed the cry of one of the little ones that Jesus loves. In Matthew 18:6 he warned—and it’s chilling--, “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it is better for him that a heavy millstone be hung around his neck, and that he be drowned in the depths of the sea.”
Perhaps there should be a run on millstones.
The Carnage of Child Sexual Abuse Permalink Submitted by Phil Monroe on Wed, 2013-11-20 20:11
Good thoughts Rick. It was great to meet you and get to know you a bit. You are absolutely right that the church must avoid the sin of complicity--of turning a blind eye to the problem, whether "out there" or inside our own walls. It is sad to see Churches spend so much effort on rehabilitating offenders and at the same time ignore the victims.
I do want to add that we can also become complicit by writing off offenders. There is some hope in repentant abusers who are willing to submit to acCountabilty within community. For those interested in learning about an effective ministry to offenders, check out this site: http://www.circles-uk.org.uk/