I don't relish covering uncomfortable topics on my blog. Often I pass them by, letting other bloggers deal with the ugly side of life. Who wants to hear about ugly?
Then I read this article on facebook the other day. And I couldn't quite get it out of my head. It's an article about pedophiles and how they engage in church life and prey on children there. I post the link here for you to read it, but please -- the article does have descriptions that are uncomfortable, and I want to warn you before you click over.
I hesitated writing this post. Why write about something so ugly? Is there anything uglier than pedophilia? It feels filthy even to speak of it. Thus we are silent.
This silence is part of the secrecy that allows pedophilia to fester in the shadows. I read the statistics in that article: 25% of females were sexually abused as children. One in four! One in seven men were. The writer says these stats are consistent in all venues where he goes to speak. 50% of his audiences were either sexually abused themselves as children or knew of a close family member who was.
I asked myself: how many women do I know who were sexually abused as children? I wracked my brain and could come up with only four -- four, out of all the hundreds, perhaps a thousand women I've met and known in my fifty years. Only four? It's impossible. By the stats in the article, several hundred women I've known were molested. But I'm only aware of four, because abuse like that is horribly secret. It's the nasty thing you never tell. So I have friends, probably very good friends, who have this ugly, terrifying thing hidden inside all their lives, afraid to tell. Only four of my friends were bold enough to say anything, and even they did not all say it publicly, for everyone to hear. But they told me.
The secrecy is killing us. Sexual abuse is killing the church, ruining our witness of love and kindness, damaging Jesus's kingdom, and emotionally killing thousands of children who come to Jesus's church for care and protection. Instead they find a horror that engulfs and destroys them. What a lie!
Pedophiles are drawn to the church because they know it's an environment where children are taught to trust, where church members try to live dependently on one another, where volunteers are needed for kids' programs, where it's a sign of love and acceptance to trust another adult with your children. There are dozens of reasons why an average church is a perfect breeding ground for pedophilia to thrive. Even when reported and discovered, abuse is often hushed-up, and children are damaged more when they realize that telling someone only made it worse. Why aren't churches more vigilant?
This should be a zero-tolerance subject. As the article says, pedophiles should have absolutely no part in a church where any children are present. They should worship only with adults. Churches should do background checks diligently. It's horrible to have an attitude of distrust in the church, but more horrible still is the wrecking of children's hearts and lives that occurs when proper diligence is not exercised in their protection.
I'll end with one observation: sexual perversion and abuse is a direct result of pornography. We all know this is true. And if pedophilia is one topic no one cares to speak of in the church, porn addiction is the second. Satan knows exactly how to cause God's men to fall and destroy their lives; all it takes is temptation to this sin. It was true in the ancient times when Israelite men were lured away to sexual worship activities with pagan women. Israel's enemies were told this was the simplest way to defeat the nation. You don't need an army; you don't need a mighty prophet; all you need is sexual sin. It infiltrates like a disease and kills God's people from the inside. The men are ashamed, and the women (I'm sorry to say) are silent.
Until the church deals openly and aggressively with the porn issues among its men, its pastors, its elders, the sexual sins won't go away. The pedophilia won't go away. The scandals won't go away. I'm weary of the silence and the destruction is fosters.