I am not a trained trauma counselor nor do I have personal experience with the following events that have recently made the news. The following should not be taken as any sort of professional opinion on the topic. I have attempted to address this with grace and understanding, but have inevitably failed in some regard. Nonetheless, this has been on my heart, and I believe Jesus is relevant everywhere. If you’d like to read about how the church and state can cooperate on these kind of problems, you can here. This is a problem with heaps and heaps of input coming from all sides–but what struck me as the most important thing to remember is that we may not be aware of the battles God has placed in someone’s life. Basing critique in compassion is always necessary.
A few weeks ago, Josh Duggar, the oldest child of the Arkansas Duggar family, made famous by their TLC show 19 Kids and Counting, was recently accused of molesting five young girls, to which he has since admitted. Jordan Root, a former missionary out of The Village Church in Texas, has similarly received much media attention for his use of child pornography. Former wife Karen’s quick annulment made it clear she believes he may have molested children as well.
Sin is the scariest, most heartbreaking demon we encounter. It seeps through towns and communities, into family rooms and bedrooms, with the vicious lie of, “This is okay for you do to. It feels good.” Abuse of any kind, including sexual, rears its ugly head in all communities. The church, and those who are expected to do the “right” thing are not exempt.
Jesus is better.
Jesus is better and he stands with us in the trenches of “this hurts” and “I feel betrayed” and “I don’t know my value anymore” and “I am so scared.”
These are deep and ugly trenches, with wounds that feel too heavy to be able to forgive, show grace, and love immediately following.
Jesus is better.
As people we are quick to place blame. I am quick to question the redemption of these men. But then I remember that if nothing else, my God is a God of redemption! He transforms, he restores, he puts what is broken in a more perfect and holy configuration than it ever was before. He sent his only Son so that we could be made new. He redeems. He is relentless in pursuing our transformation into people more and more in love with the goodness and gentleness–the values he preaches and Jesus lived. Not one soul is free from the relentless pursuit God begins for each and every one of us, for our own redemption!
Jesus, my Jesus, you are eternities mightier, holier and lovelier than we might ever be. We jump and we try and on our sweetest, most righteous day we are still wretched sinners. Sometimes we don’t even try for holiness. We take a comfortable seat in the trench of our ugly sin, living that story instead of the beautiful one of your endless grace and redemption.
Jesus is better than teenage boys who touch their sisters and grown men who watch children forced to grow up the instant they are filmed or photographed innapropriately. Jesus is better than angry commenters on the Internet condemning either of these men. Jesus is better than people who do not engage in any of these acts, but in their own sins the same.
But the sweet, glorious truth: Jesus is both available to all and commands all into a life more glorifying to him, casting off sin for intimacy with our incomparable Savior, the treasure of our hearts.
1 Corinthians 6 tells us the celebration-worthy truth about who we are, and what we are commanded to do based on this truth:
Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God with your body (19-20).
Sexual abuse is inexcusable, and those who have been traumatically and devastatingly affected by it need people who will listen, believe, and take action–both to bring healing to them and help the abuser out of the sinful behavior as well. It may not always be beneficial for either to claim forgiveness or repentance so easily, eagerly, quickly, as a method of putting on a brave face. Forgiveness and repentance are attempts empty and void without the presence and grace of our loving God. It breaks my heart that these the destruction these sins cause cannot be easily solved. However, redemption, messy as it is, is a much more eternally-satisfying process than an easy solution.
It comforts me that Jesus stands in the trenches of pain and hurt with victims of sexual abuse, speaking worth instead of demoralization into these precious creations of our God: “I am with you. This is not who you are. You are mine.” It comforts me that he reminds all of us that we were bought with a price. He determines our worth, not an abuser.
It comforts me that Jesus stands in the trenches of shame and regret with perpetrators of sexual abuse. It comforts me that he calls these precious creations of our God out of that sin, commanding that all people glorify God with their bodies, and into glorious life with him: “I am with you. This is not who you are. You are mine.”