Richard Land on Sexual Abuse in the Church, Part 1 — The Children

The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect those of BCNN1. Opinions expressed are solely those of the author(s).

Question:  There have been disturbing reports about child sex abuse in churches, sometimes even the father being the perpetrator, and pastors and counselors saying that the perpetrator has repented and pushing reconciliation and forgiveness even though the victim believes the perpetrator is faking it and feels unsafe.  Church leaders have even pushed for children to forgive and live with the father who sexually abused them and some have resulted in continual abuse.  How do you balance repentance, forgiveness, born-again theology, and protecting the victim and preventing further abuse – both in a counseling setting and in a church setting?  How do you deal with a convicted child sex abuser joining the church and setting up proper protection while also needing to recognize someone beyond their past sins?

We have all been scandalized by the voluminous reports of sex abuse within our churches and Christian communities. Our hearts break when we discover sexual predators in our midst who have violated a sacred trust by perpetrating sexual violence within the fellowship of believers.

Of course, we must do everything we can as churches to prevent sexual violence and sexual exploitation within our churches and Christian communities. It is our Christian duty to do background checks and put in place guidelines, procedures, and safeguards both to help prevent such behavior and to encourage it being reported and dealt with immediately when it does occur. All reports and allegations must be taken seriously and reported to the proper authorities.

Our grief is particularly acute when the victims are innocent children. What do you do when someone has confessed their crime of molesting children, has served their sentence, and has asked for reinstatement as a church member on the basis of being a redeemed and forgiven sinner?

While serving as interim pastor of a Baptist church several years ago, I was presented with just such a situation. A young man in his mid-twenties had been convicted in his late teens of sexual molestation of a child. He had served his sentence and purportedly been rehabilitated in prison. He had then been released and returned home to live with his parents. His father (a church deacon) and mother wanted to start bringing him back to church, which he also strongly desired to do. The deacon leadership asked me, “What do we do? The boy has expressed remorse and asked for forgiveness.  Should we deny him the right to worship in the Lord’s house?”

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Richard Land