Child Sex Abuse In The Church

Posted: January 3, 2018 in Uncategorized

AP’s annual poll reported that the wave of sexual misconduct allegations that toppled Hollywood power brokers, politicians, media icons and many others was the top news story of 2017. Bill Clinton, Donald Trump, Bill Cosby, gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar, Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey and recently senate candidate Roy Moore have all been accused of sexually abusing others.

Supreme Court Justice John Roberts recently announced that he had promised “a careful evaluation of the judiciary’s sexual misconduct policies.” He said, “Recent events have illuminated the depth of the problem of sexual harassment in the workplace.” Roberts added, “Events in the past few weeks have made clear that the judicial branch is not immune.”

Last month, distinguished federal appeals court judge Alex Kozinski retired following accusations by women that he had touched them inappropriately, made lewd comments and shown them pornography.

All of this started the “Me Too” movement that grew like a wildfire thanks to social media, talk show hosts and the news media.

I recently watched aghast as a tearful young woman revealed to Megyn Kelly on her talk show how traumatized she was because a man had grabbed he butt years ago. If an adult woman can be traumatized by someone grabbing their butt, how much more will a small child be traumatized by being sexually assaulted by someone they trust?

The Nebraska Inspector General, Julie Rogers discovered that at least 50 Nebraska children in foster care—some as young as four years old—have suffered sexual abuse while in the state’s care. The Inspector General’s Office launched an investigation after getting a stream of reports concerning sexual abuse of children and youth in the welfare and juvenile justice system.

It is clear that child sexual abuse has become an epidemic in our communities. Many organizations work hard to raise awareness to the public and lawmakers about human trafficking and the sex trade, and yet the epidemic of child sexual abuse in the home is underreported or totally ignored by the media and most people.

Pigs in the parlor

Even churches tend to try to sweep this heinous crime under their religious rug. “That’s ridiculous!” Some would say. “Christians don’t engage in child sexual abuse!”

But contrary to popular myth, the majority of perpetrators who sexually abuse children attend church regularly. Statistically, the abuser is well known to the victim 75-95% of the time. Often the abuser is a family member, a trusted family friend or a child care provider. You may be sitting next to a victim or perpetrator of child sexual abuse in church every Sunday and never know it!

Because child sexual abuse is a felony in many locations, pastors, teachers, counselors and other formal caregivers would do well to learn the laws of their locale pertaining to the reporting of suspected abuse. In many states a person is required by law to make a call to Child Protective Services of a reasonable suspicion of child abuse. The person reporting is protected by law, and laws of confidentiality.

So why are churches so reluctant to report it?

Possibly because they worry about the impact of reporting on a church member—the financial implications or causing the church member to leave the congregation. Christians are also more concerned with the image and testimony of their church to the community. At the heart of this struggle is a fear that is rooted in the need to self-protect—the fear of losing the “good reputation”—the fear of losing ministry donors and losing congregation members. And a fear of losing a ministry altogether.

All such fears are usually masked by a rationale that the reporting of child sexual abuse among church members may “damage the reputation of Christ”. This sounds spiritual, but this has nothing to do with Jesus or HIS reputation. It is actually about protecting THIER reputation.

The problem of child sexual abuse is brought to our attention in Leviticus 18 and again in the New Testament. (1 Corinthians 6:9-10; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-6; Galatians 5:19-21) The problem is not new. Nor has it gone away. One in four girls and one in 10 boys will be sexually assaulted by someone they know and trust before they reach 18.

Statistics show that your child or grandchild has at least a 1 in 10 chance that they will be sexually abused in their own home. And if you are a single parent living with someone other than your child’s biological parent, your child is 30 times more likely to be sexually abused in your home than in the home where both biological parents live!

Let’s make sure we all understand one important truth, child sexual abuse is both a sin and a serious crime. Besides biblical and legal grounds for reporting suspected abuse to authorities, there are also practical reasons to do so. Statistics have shown that 70-80% of sexual abuse survivors report excessive drug and alcohol use. Children who are sexually abused are at greater risk to suffer from post-traumatic stress and other anxiety symptoms, depression and suicide attempts. Adolescents with a history of child sexual abuse demonstrate a three to fourfold increase in rates of substance abuse/dependence. Behavioral problems, including physical aggression occur more frequently among sexually abused children and adolescents. (Find more stats at:

The state government has the authority to remove children from parents who are inflicting (or knowingly allowing) physical and/or emotional harm to children. However, this can’t happen if the authorities are not notified of the suspected maltreatment. Oftentimes, a child’s very survival is dependent upon whether we take the initiative and report. There should be little debate within the Christian community that the protection and survival of children is a God ordained responsibility that we cannot neglect or excuse.

I believe that since so many Christians are victims and offenders, the image and testimony of the church would be greatly enhanced by dealing with the issue openly. The church needs to be involved in prevention of child abuse of any kind. An important first step is for the church to admit that it happens and that it happens among its own members. This will be a vital first step in the process toward getting help and healing for both the victims and their families.

“See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 18:10)

“And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me; but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” (Matthew 18:5-6)


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