She was the oldest of three girls. As she hit her pre-teens, she was sexually abused by her father. The abuse continued well into her teen years. She wanted to stop the abuse, but was afraid if she did, her father would abuse her younger siblings. The hardest part for me to hear was that her father was an active deacon in the church, and her mother was aware of what was happening and did nothing to stop it.
The abuse continued until she left home. Her life spiraled downward and she went far away from the Lord. As she continued her story she told of her journey back to Christ, her struggle to love a God who is called “father” and her healing from the bondage of sexual abuse.
I have heard the stories for years, first as a youth sponsor and then in women’s ministry. The level of sexual abuse of women and men in the church is stunning when you think about it. As a member of the body of Christ, I realize that there are pretenders in the church—people who claim to love God but are controlled by a life of sin, including sexual sin.
I love the church–the body of Christ, the Bride of Christ. But I acknowledge that the church is not perfect and neither are the people who make up the church. The fact is we are all flawed sinners in desperate need of God’s redemption, which was made possible through Christ.
But here is a huge problem that I see. In trying to keep a spotless reputation, some churches have tried to sanitize everything to the point that we look perfect on the outside. But we are not. And by trying to cover the flaws, we are losing people who desperately need to know the love of Christ and the healing power of His redemption.
It is time
Time for the church to acknowledge the sins that exist within.
Time for the church to become proactive in exposing those who perpetrate those sins to the world.
Time for the church to take seriously their role in protecting the abused rather than the abuser.
Time for the church to stop worrying about their reputation and start worrying about their hurting.
Time for the church to be transparent about the flaws and realize that those outside the church have known about them all along.
It is time to be transparent about sexual abuse in the church because only then can healing begin.
Ephesians 1-15: Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.. . .For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. 14 This is why it is said: “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.”-NIV