WWJD with Child Molesters? And Are Public ‘Attacks’ Persecution for Faith?

(Part 3: The Forgotten Children)

The merchants sold things in the temple courtyard. There was no hidden crime, that we know of; they were right out there in the open, and obviously they thought what they did was fine. Even so, Jesus threw over tables, grabbed a whip and chased them out. The Pharisees made a host of man-made rules and imposed them on people as part of redemption, and Jesus called them hypocrites, a brood of vipers. He even declared them to be sons of hell. “You travel land and sea,” Jesus said, “to make one convert. And having done so, you make them twice the sons of hell that you are.”

Ouch. Definitely His outdoor voice, wouldn’t you say? And this isn’t the Old Testament God of wrath, talking here. This is Jesus, the gentle-hearted healer, speaking to those who defile the temple with ignored sin, those who defile God’s name by misrepresenting Him through external things, those who defile the temple by taking what is not theirs. That’s what thieves do; they take what is not theirs.

What would Jesus do with sexual abuse hidden in the ‘temple’? He would react. I know for certain He would not turn a blind eye, or shrug it off. The Gospels are full of Jesus’ response to sin, and the response of sinners to Jesus. When Zacchaeus encountered the Christ, he gave back 10-fold what he had taken. The impact Jesus had on him was not a, “thank God for grace so I can move on from my little mistake”… No, when Zac met Jesus, he was confronted by the wickedness of his own heart, and this stirred repentance in him. Repentance that included paying the consequences for his crime and acknowledging he had done great damage.

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I am also confident that Jesus would not say the offender (or their family) is being persecuted for their faith, if such sin came to light and the world around was angry and called them hypocrites. My confidence comes from the Word of God, which clearly states that if our suffering is the result of wrongdoing (sin, criminal activity, gossip) then we are not to rejoice in it, and it is not being ‘reproached for the name of Christ’. Jesus would most definitely stand by the Word. Yes, he would extend forgiveness to the repentant, which I also promote… with boundaries to protect victims, and following the laws of the land. (Romans 13:1-5)  I certainly can’t imagine He would run around saying, “This man/woman suffered dreadfully for my name’s sake”, when there is sin or criminal activity linked to the attacks. Fallout in the world around, as a result of those things is called consequences, and shames the name of Christ–even when/if it has been dealt with through repentance.

When I hear the cry ‘persecution’ associated with some of the recent ‘Christian sex scandals’, whether Gothard, Provencher, Duggars, or any other ‘Christian’ suffering ‘persecution’ after committing a crime, it makes me feel physically ill. It isn’t persecution. Does the world react differently to Christians being exposed in sex scandals or crimes? Yes. And they should. They have expectations of us, behaviours they hope for, and when our sins look just like their sins, they are bewildered, angry and call it hypocrisy. Sometimes it is hypocrisy, and sometimes it isn’t. But to the world it all looks the same.

Persecution, in terms of Christianity, is when someone suffers for the sake, cause or name of Christ. If I am bullied for dressing in a particular cultural fashion, it is not ‘suffering for the sake of Christ’. Christ didn’t ask me to dress a certain way. My church may have, or my parents, and it is perfectly fine for me to dress that ‘certain way’ associated with culture or personal preference, but that attire has nothing to do with the name of Christ, because my attire doesn’t represent Christ. My life, however, does represent Him or misrepresent Him, as the case may be. But, if I declare boldly the love and name and teachings of Christ, and I suffer for His name’s sake, that is Christian persecution.

So, as a Christian, if I commit(ted) a crime and it comes to light and collides with what I teach, and I am attacked, bashed or shamed because the crime came to light, it is not persecution. It is a consequence of sin. It is one of the reasons I chose early on to disclose my own past–the things I did and those done to me–so that the name of Christ would never be shamed because some hidden thing in my own life comes to light, and my past would not be used against me. And as part of my healing I shared every sin ever committed against me, and every sin I could remember ever committing, and have written about many of them. I desperately wanted to be free, and my greatest fear back then was that people would discover who I once was and use it to destroy me, or it would give Satan a foothold. (And now it’s out there in book form. Who would have thought it?!) But I will say this, if ever I get attacked by the world for what I disclose in my memoir, it will not be persecution. If I get attacked for presenting Christ and my faith in Him, that will be persecution.

That said, there is forgiveness for every sin and Jesus is more than enough, for my sins, for your sins and even the sins of celebrities. All sins are equal in needing grace,  but all are not equal in consequence to us or others. We say sin doesn’t have ‘grades’, and then hold up homosexuality as ‘a sin unto death’ while brushing molestation under the proverbial rug. It would seem that Jesus might disagree with our grading system. There is only one sin for which He declares it would be better for the offender to be dead than to face the consequences, and it is the very one I see hidden most often in churches; sinning against a child or causing a child to sin. (And I deal with the fallout of ‘causing a child to sin’, and think often of this verse.) May God have mercy on our warped grading system, and open our blinded eyes to the impact of silence.

Children who survived abuse have long been overlooked, their pain gone unacknowledged. Let alone the devastating aftermath of sexual abuse. Many are later disciplined by their churches for struggles that are the direct result of being sinned against. All of this must change if the church–the Body of Christ–is ever to have a voice of hope or authority in the world. In Amos 5 God says He will turn away from every form of worship, if we don’t first love justice and righteousness. And there is no justice in turning a blind eye to victimization, while trying quickly to cover up the crimes through ‘forgiveness’. And there is no righteousness in that pretense.  We, the church, have so much more to offer…

Victims need compassion–not pity; understanding, not ‘blaming’; and time and space to heal, not a mad dash to forgiveness and silence…. for the sake of image or any other wicked motivation. They need affirmation; to know they are not insane, even when they feel it. They need encouragement; to know they can make it. They need a listening ear, without judgement.

Victims need a church that does not overlook their trauma, but invites the Jesus who whispers to children in the night; “I am here. You will never be alone”.

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I will share this interview with Boz Tchividjian, on the last of the ‘Forgotten Children’ posts, because it is worth watching. Boz is a man of great wisdom on the topic of sexual abuse. He is a Christian and a former prosecuting lawyer in child abuse cases, who speaks with insight, compassion and offers balance. If ever you find yourself wondering if something is ‘sexual abuse’ or ‘normal curiosity’, have a listen.

Boz interview with CBN

Coming up… A few thoughts on the Duggar daughter’s interview.

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger

“When I prayed, I felt big arms wrap around me”… Do Angels Really Visit Children?

“I will work a work in your days which ye will not believe, though it be told you.”
~ GOD ~

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(Part 2: The Forgotten Children)

…First a little story that happened in 2015:

angel with child

Had I not been there, face to face with her, and had I only heard it on GodVine or whatever other social media forum out there, I wouldn’t have believed it. I would have concluded someone coerced her, or framed the questions just right. But when it played out in front of me, I had no choice but to believe. I tell the following story with permission from ‘mommy’.

This year I’ve traveled to numerous times to various states in USA, to offer support in difficult situations. Being a Canadian, I go solely to offer a listening ear and spiritual encouragement. I do not tell people what they ought to do, beyond encouraging them to educate themselves with the law, and fight for their children’s best interest and healing, and to get them support, help or therapy they need. Always.

It was on one such trip that I found myself sitting with a little girl…. yet again. Her blonde, fly-away hair caught in her ice cream cone, and she licked it clean, giggling. Her blue eyes sparked with mischief… until that one topic came up…

I asked if we could talk about what had happened, and explained that mommy had told me everything. Immediately, it was as if someone had turned out the light and drawn the blinds in her beautiful little eyes. With great intensity she told me that mommy had explained we would talk about it, and it was okay. Still, I could see the shame.

“What do you feel when we talk about it?” I asked.

She shrugged, then said, “Bad. Like it was my fault and I ruined his life.” My heart filled with sudden deep pain, on her behalf, and immediately I assured her it was not her fault. I told a little story, using a practical example, of a grown up wrecking some precious toy, and asked if it would be her fault. “No!” she giggled, in that ‘don’t-be-so-silly’ way, and shook her head.  The sparkle returned.

“Then, can it really be your fault when an adult hurts you?”

She shook her head, and smiled. “So it’s not really my fault at all, is it?”

“No, sweetie, it isn’t,” I said. Relief visibly washed over her. We talked about many things, and repeatedly her deep thoughts amazed me. And then I asked about fear. I remember debilitating fear surging through my body, so that I could hardly breathe, especially at night, and how there was no one to talk to about it. “Are you ever afraid?” I asked.

“Not very often, any more,” she said, “but sometimes I am.”

“What do you do when you’re afraid?” I asked.

“I pray and talk to Jesus,” she said. I nodded, contemplating where to take the conversation. I asked what she says to Jesus. “I just tell Him I’m scared, and ask Him to help me,” she answered.

sleeping girl

“Who taught you to pray when you’re afraid?

She looked thoughtful. “No one. I just do it.” She went on to tell me how the first time she lay in the dark, terrified, she began to ‘talk to Jesus’.

“Then what happened?” I expected her to call her parents into her room to hold and comfort her. Because they would. They’re like that.

“When I prayed, I felt big arms wrap around me and hold me, and then I fell asleep,” she answered matter-of-factly, as though it should have been what I expected. Whatever emotions I felt in that moment, I pushed them down. I was here to support her, and tears were out of place. So I smiled and told her how beautiful that is, and how it makes me so happy.

“I told my little brother to try it when he was scared. I said, ‘you can just pray, and these big arms will come and hold you’, but he said it didn’t work for him.”

“Have you told mommy and daddy about this?” I asked. She furrowed her brows, thoughtfully, and then shook her head, adding that she never thought about it. “Do you think we can tell them later?” I asked. “I think it would make their hearts happy.” And that is just what she did when we returned. There were tears and relief, at knowing so  that Someone had been with their daughter so intimately all along.

The words of Jesus, “…their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven…” replayed in my mind, over and over. She won’t have an easy road; it never is for victims of molestation, but she will never be alone.

God has an amazing plan for this little girl, as He does for all of us. Being molested will bring unnecessary struggle and pain into that journey, but I know this; God will redeem it. He will turn her into a dynamic young woman whose faith will be a testimony to God’s faithfulness in spite of tragedy.

I do not thank God for what happened to her. I do not downplay the wickedness because of God’s promised redemption. I am heartbroken that children continue to suffer. It should never have happened. But I will never stop believing that God will raise us up, as victims, to be the strongest voice for healing in our land, on this topic.

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I will share this interview with Boz Tchividjian, on each of these ‘Forgotten Children’ posts, because it is worth watching. Boz is a man of great wisdom on the topic of sexual abuse. He is a Christian and a former prosecuting lawyer in child abuse cases, who speaks with insight, compassion and offers balance. If ever you find yourself wondering if something is ‘sexual abuse’ or ‘normal curiosity’, have a listen.

Boz interview with CBN

To be Continued….

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger

The Forgotten Children: Would Jesus Drive Out Child Molesters With a Whip?

Cattle wander. Sheep. Oxen. Doves. Each animal contained and constrained. Obedient. People. Everywhere. Rushing about. All wanting top dollar; highest bids. Each one scrambling, greed rushing through their veins like black poison. Money changers. A little extra here, withholding a mite there. No one will miss it. No one know. Except for the well-lined pockets of slippery fingers.

One hand reaches in, jingling the extra. A wicked smirk. A little security. Selfish hand wrapped around coins…

A whip cracks, piercing the air…

The man startles, ducking; hands flailing, coins scatter. Cuss words. Yelling. He dives greedily after rolling promises, breaking from his reach. Takes cover under a table. Cattle, oxen, sheep… they all charge carelessly; owners flee.

Tables topple with violent force…. the man crawls, bumps his head, stumbles to his feet and flees. Still cussing at the man, whose descent on the lucrative heaven, disrupted and brought utter chaos. Who in all the world would have the gall?

He pauses at the sidelines, looking back… and then he sees Him. He squints in disbelief. It’s the gentle Rabbi, “teacher”, as they call him; those foolish ones who trail after him like lost idiots. The whole irresponsible lot of them, a nuisance.

Children dart out from hiding, snatching coins. “My coins,” he mutters grudgingly, under his breath. “Those bratty little rascals!” The same little ‘bratty ones’ that the teacher defended in one of his teachings, he recalls. Yes, the teacher declared boldly that anyone who dared offend one of them–these bratty little ones–would be better off with a mill stone about their neck and cast into the sea. And something about their angels always being in God’s presence; some warning for the offender and a promise of comfort and care for the little ones, it seemed. Well, didn’t He see them here, now, stealing coins? Were they not asking for a little ‘offence’!? If I could get my hands on them, they’d get it good! But then, there was He, the teacher, the ‘Master’, and what kind of example was He for the children?

“Little brats,” he mumbled one last time, slinking away. It was useless. The whip cracked. dangerously. The cattle, sheep, oxen, and doves; a chorus of confusion.

And above the noise, a voice of authority echoes for eternity, through the land: “This is My Father’s house! And you have made it a den of thieves! You have taken what was not yours!

The words echo deep in a young man’s soul. “You have taken what was not yours“… They burn the heart of a young woman, “Den of thieves… You have taken what was not yours...” … An old man hobbles away, the words stinging deafened ears… “You have taken what was not yours“…  The woman, bent and crooked, led by her grandson, feels her heart splinter in two, til she can’t breathe, “You have taken what was not yours“…

The young man, the young woman, the old man, and the old woman, hunched and blind, see them there, the chorus of little one crying eerily, “You have taken what was not yours“.

Their soul blood cries from the dry ground of devastated hearts, seeking justice. Naked child bones, whose flesh was ripped away in that one selfish moment, lie lifeless…. Without lips, without tongues… they cry. Without tears or eyes… they weep.

But their lifeless hearts begin to warm and soften, with His light, beating as one with the Master’s, at the cry of His voice, “This is my father’s house and you have made it a den of thieves…. You have taken what was not yours, but I will keep my promise…  I have not forgotten the children… I will enter this valley of dry bones! I will replace hearts of stone with hearts of flesh, and bring these bones to life, covering them again with fullness and life. I will rebuild the ruins… I will restore ….

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To be continued….

Love,

~ T ~

I will share this interview with Boz Tchividjian, on each of these ‘Forgotten Children’ posts, because it is worth watching. Boz is a man of great wisdom on the topic of sexual abuse. He is a Christian and a former prosecuting lawyer in child abuse cases, who speaks with insight, compassion and offers balance. If ever you find yourself wondering if something is ‘sexual abuse’ or ‘normal curiosity’, have a listen.

Boz interview with CBN

Note:  As promised, I am working on the list of links to the Mandatory Reporting laws in all states and provinces; at least all for which I am able to find them. It is a time-consuming (and may I say ‘boring’) task, but I will get there.

© Trudy Metzger