Open Your Mouth for the Mute

child abuse casts a shadow“Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.” Pr. 31:8-9

There are few people more mute than the victims of child abuse.  In fact, children who are abused often begin drawing* pictures of themselves with no mouths, or no arms – a reflection of their view of themselves as having no power and no voice.  There are few more destitute than those who have been abused by somebody who gained their love and trust and then used it as a weapon against them.  There are few more needy and in need of defense than children who have been abused by betrayers who are bigger, stronger, more powerful, and more trusted by their community.

 

Every adult can help free children from suffering sexual abuse and give them hope to recover.

Despite speaking with many mothers whose children have been sexually abused, I have not yet found one who instinctively “knew” what was happening and was able to save their child, whether the offender was a member of the family, a trusted acquaintance or professional person.

This is a sobering problem, especially given that it is also very difficult to spot pedophiles.

They do not stand out in a crowd.

They could be aged from mid teens or into their 90s, they are almost always “good with children”, they come from all social classes, education levels and professions.

They often hold positions of power.

The only people who know for sure who the pedophiles are, are the victims. Child victims almost always often suffer in silence, frightened, alone and unable to escape.

The only way then, for society to identify, prosecute and remove these dangerous individuals from the community is to listen carefully to children, to prevent abuse before it begins, to give victims every possible assistance to recover and to report offenders to the police.

Careful listening involves listening to more than words.

Children who are being sexually abused most often have been threatened to keep the crimes of the offender secret.

Children who are being abused, then, are most likely NOT to tell anyone.

They are likely also to be especially careful not to let anyone know or suspect what is happening to them.

The only clues they might give will be subconscious.

Click through the link to see some of the clues and insights for protecting children.

Every adult can help, but they must first be willing.

They must be teachable, willing to learn about the lifelong devastation that child abuse brings, as well as about the tricks, techniques of those who abuse children. They must recognize that child molesters are almost never ‘cured,’ They are always attracted to children. Truly repentant abusers accept this and agree not to be around children. They don’t get their feelings hurt and play the wounded penitent when they are denied access to children.

Adults can help.  But They must swallow their pride- it’s hard to confess that you were fooled by a cunning con-artist who depends upon his charm and charisma to get him access to children, and, when caught, depends upon his crocodile tears and chameleon changes of external demeanor to trick you into believing they are repentant and cured and will never do it again.  There’s more prestige and chest thumping in certain circles, for reasons I will never understand, over standing with an adult man who says he once abused children but will do that no more, than with the broken victims of his abuse, who are further marginalized when they act out their broken-ness because you have offered them no genuine balm or compassion.

Adults who can help must be willing to risk reputation and risk losing status, income, friends- because child abuse is uncomfortable and we avoid things that make us uncomfortable.

They must truly have the heart of Jesus for the suffering in their midst, for the mute, the destitute, the poor- they must care about those injured, broken children and their families than they do about their insurance policies, their legal protections, the legalese, a statute of limitations. Policies, bureaucracies, and red tape should never trump doing the right thing and speaking out for victims.

They must be willing to weep with those who weep- real mourning with those who grieving over their stolen childhood.  Too often I read about church leadership trusting the crocodile tears of a man who may have a hundred victims and he’s actually not demonstrating true repentance (which would include turning himself into the police, and keeping himself out of positions of trust and access to children).

There’s more- but that’s a start.

I read a blog recently by a preacher who has allowed at least two such abusers to remain in his congregation, and he writes about it in a tone that certainly sounded to me like boasting. He is sure he knows better than anybody else about why other people are dismayed that child molesters continue to infest his congregation.  He is sure he knows better than anybody else whatever is worth knowing about child molesters and their victims,  about the molester’s likelihood of repentance and ‘cure’.

You know what came to my mind as I read?

1 Corinthians 5:

It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you.

For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.

Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”

Compare how sexual immorality by a member is supposed to be handled, with how it was handled as you read the disturbing, and difficult allegations made in this lawsuit.

Isn’t it interesting that Paul doesn’t say- tell the church to stop gossiping about it, go privately to this man, pray with him, accept his tearful repentance.  Paul didn’t say, “work on reconciliation between the man and his father’s wife,’ or anything like it.  Paul says, ‘Quit boasting.  Mourn!! And remove him from among you!’  I don’t know what Paul thinks of the wife, because he doesn’t say- but Paul also doesn’t call the woman involved Foxy Bubbles nor waste any time blaming her and making excuses for the man on the basis of his libido. I’m guessing that the woman was not a professing believer- but Paul doesn’t say. He just says that man needs to be removed from the church, and now.

Paul doesn’t say, “Sin is sin, and there but for the grace of God go I, and we can’t judge.”  Paul says “I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing.”

Paul does not say, “advocate for him with the Civil Magistrates- sit with his side at a court trial, write letters to the judge on his behalf pleading for leniency. Hire a lawyer to defend him.”  Paul says, “Deliver him to Satan!”

Paul doesn’t say to befriend the youth minister who turned out to be a child molester, the pastor who commits sexual sins by foisting himself on the 22 year old girl who has been under his authority since she was a teen, the father who has been abusing his children, the husband who continuous berates his wife- he says “not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one.

Paul doesn’t advocate keeping this quiet, just letting the leadership know, squelching discussion, not allowing anybody to know.  He says to apply the “unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”  Charismatic tyrants and child molesters are not even on speaking terms with sincerity or truth.  If you think you are good at sniffing out sincerity and discerning truth, you are probably one of his best friends because your pride makes you easily fooled.

Stop shutting up the victims, the messengers, those who are telling it to the church and advocating following the truths of 1 Corinthians 5.  Truth sets us free.  Silence hides violence.  It keeps the children and other victims shackled.  It allows evil to continue unchecked as abusers go on to abuse dozens more victims (they may have between 100 and 200 victims).

“Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.” Pr. 31:8-9

 

*footnote: the use of children’s drawings to uncover abuse is extremely limited and according to more than one site, “the empirical evidence is weak”.   This layperson’s purely personal opinion is that the most important thing for a parent to look for would be a significant change- if your child has been drawing figures with mouths, and then starts leaving out mouths, especially for drawings of himself, ask some gentle questions, see if there are any other changes in his behavior.  If he has not been exposed to any discussions of sex and doesn’t normally see adult nudity, and yet begins drawing pictures where the private organs are detailed or larger than they should be- I would personally be concerned.  If you are part of a culture where the family regular bathes together, I would be less concerned.
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