Sexual abuse. I wonder how many of us have been affected in some way by this ugly monster. Your sister. Your friend. Your parent. Your cousin. (I wrote an earlier blog regarding sexual abuse and felt I needed to follow up on it.)
It’s time the church takes a different approach in dealing with sexual abuse. There are people who’ve been silent for way too long. Did you know being silent when you know of sexual abuse is a legal crime? What’s even more alarming is how many are brushing off how serious this offense is in God’s eyes. Too many individuals are choosing to look the other way instead of becoming involved in rescuing those who have no voice.
In the past few years, I’ve come in contact with many women who are struggling to recover from horrendous things done to them when they were innocent little girls. I spoke at a women’s retreat where I briefly mentioned the pain associated with abuse. I opened the altar to those who never acknowledged that it happened to them. I’ll never forget how the altar and aisle was filled with weeping women who have faced this kind of abuse in some way. What broke my heart was when I saw a group of young teen girls crying and hugging each other. I realized this abuse is not just something that has happened in the past. It’s way too prevalent in our current world. And it has got to stop!
I recently received a message from a woman who was molested as a toddler and for many years following. Her mom and others knew about the abuse and heard her screaming while it was happening. Yet, they never stopped it! Why didn’t they take action? Their reason was that they felt they needed to be submissive to their husbands and church leaders. And this simply makes my blood curl.
My friend, this is NOT about submission. It’s about terrible, evil, manipulative abuse. The abuse is not only towards the innocent child, but also towards the women who feel as if they have no choice but to remain silent about the abuse. Something is wrong when women fear the anger of their husbands or leaders of the church more than they care about what is right in God’s eyes. Many of these women realize if they speak up, they will become the rebellious, “bad woman” and their world will fall apart. They will be the ones accused and emotionally torn apart. But silence about sexual abuse isn’t submission.
Nowhere in scripture does it say that a wife should submit to something that is ungodly. Submission to God has got to supersede submission to an ungodly, abusive husband. Abuse is sin. Stealing and murder is sin. If your husband would ask you to murder someone, should you be submissive and obey? Of course not. So I plead with you, don’t ever remain silent about this issue either, regardless if it’s your husband, brother, father, sister, son, cousin, uncle, or aunt who’s abusing others.
Statistics, counselors, and anyone who understands the needs of human beings will tell you that sexual abuse is emotionally damaging. Sexual abuse may feel as if the person is reaching beyond your body and harming your spirit. Let’s get this straight. Sexual abuse is one of the greatest offenses you can commit towards someone. (Yet, it is still forgivable. We will talk about that in an upcoming blog.)
But did you know that your silence regarding sexual sins may also result in a millstone being hung around someone’s neck? Matt. 18:6 says, “But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.”
Majority of sexual abuse cases are committed towards innocent “little ones.” And Jesus took these offenses very seriously. During Bible times, millstone drowning was an awful death. Millstones were large stones from animal powered grinding mills. The executions were horrendous as the person’s head would be pulled straight down with the weight of the stone. The person would find it impossible to swim and drowning would occur as they struggled hysterically to reach the surface. It was a terrifying experience not only for the individual but also for his family and friends as they watched him struggle. His body was likely pulled to the bottom of the sea, never to be seen again. This added to the intensity of the punishment since the family couldn’t give the executed man a proper burial.
Let’s think about this…If Jesus took offending a little one this seriously, shouldn’t we?
Let me emphasize this again. Ladies, being submissive to your Heavenly Father is a greater responsibility than being submissive to your husband, regarding a sin issue like this in his life. It breaks the very heart of God when a child is molested and violated in any way. Our love for God needs to be higher on my heart than loving my spouse. True love for my spouse is willing to look beyond the shame, inconvenience, and intense loss for the sake of saving his soul. When someone is left to themselves and continues down the path of pornography and molestation, they are risking eternal damnation to their souls. And by remaining silent, you are helping to hang their millstone.
Regardless of who the perpetrator is, please go to the proper authorities or a trained counselor if you’re aware of abuse. Obedience to God needs to take precedence over “covering up” for your loved one. Sexual abuse not only has the potential to destroy the victim, but destroys the perpetrator as well.
When someone is molested, it cuts deeply into the very core of their being. If they don’t find help in the beginning stages of this pain and confusion, the enemy finds an open door in which to ensnare them. The pain, loss, guilt, and shame will continue to be the avenue in which they turn to depression medication, drugs, alcohol or even suicide to relieve this pain. When will we ever realize that we are also guilty when we choose to remain silent instead of speaking up in the wounded’s defense?
I would also like to talk about a different side of this issue. Because we’ve also talked with those who’ve been on the “other end” of sexual abuse; those who’ve been falsely accused of sexual misconduct by someone looking for revenge and power behind their voice. The damage this causes is huge. And often irreparable. False accusation can have far-reaching, eternal consequences.
So what should you do if you have been the one guilty of some form of molestation? First of all, try to understand how deeply you’ve hurt the individual. Repent and ask God to forgive you. Then with a heart of repentance, go to the one or ones you’ve offended. You may wish to say these words to them, “I know I don’t truly understand how deeply I’ve hurt you. But I want you to know that I am deeply sorry for the pain I have caused in your life. I have asked God to forgive me and I hope some day you will also be able to forgive me. But whether you do or not, I want you to know that I wish there was a way I could go back and make other choices that wouldn’t have caused this deep pain to your heart. I don’t expect you to trust me. But I want you to know that I wish I could undo the terrible things I’ve done not only against your body, but also against your soul. I’m so sorry.” And then leave it at that. Don’t feel as if you deserve their forgiveness after this, although it’s natural that you desire it. In reality, none of us deserve forgiveness for any wrongs we’ve committed. Forgiveness is an undeserved gift.
My prayer is that they will someday come to the realization that their forgiveness towards you isn’t about freeing you, but it’s about freeing themselves. Our freedom is never determined by anyone’s forgiveness. It’s determined by God’s forgiveness.
If you have remained silent when you should’ve spoken up, please go to all of those who were affected by your silence. Tell them how sorry you are, and attempt to make it right.
If you’ve falsely accused anyone of sexual misconduct, do whatever it takes to attempt to reverse the damage you’ve caused.
May God help each of us to be a part of the answer for the sin of sexual abuse. Whether teaching our children respect of others, speaking out against abuse we witness, or empowering others to speak out, we need to join together to break the bondage. When we stand before our just and holy God, what will He say about the ways we could have defended those who had no voice, yet we didn’t? Will He judge us for the sin of silence?
~Cindy (For The Mullett Family)