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“But…” the man in his 70’s paused…. “but, she wanted it.”
“No, sir,” I said, “she didn’t want sex.” He looked startled, as though this had never occurred to him. “How old was the child?” I asked, speaking kindly, but firmly.
“She was ten, sir. No ten-year-old wants a man almost old enough to be her grandfather to have sexual contact with them. She didn’t want to have sex with you.”
“She didn’t?” he asked, not convinced.
“No, she didn’t. Do you want to know what that little girl wanted from you?” I didn’t wait for an answer. “She wanted you to be her safe place. She trusted you. Her father was a molester and you were the one man she thought was safe. She wanted acceptance. She wanted affirmation. She wanted protection. You broke her trust and violated her heart and body.”
The man went pale, as if realizing for the first time what he had really done. For almost thirty years he had told himself he had only done what she wanted.
That conversation is as close to ‘verbatim’ as I can recall it. It started when the man made a comment, in relation to my father, that he doesn’t understand how a father could molest his own children. He didn’t know that I knew he had victimized a child years earlier, and was taken off-guard when my response was something to the effect of, “And molesting another man’s child is better?” And that’s how the conversation began.
Making excuses for molesting is devastating to the victim, and keeps abusers in bondage. Not to mention that these abusers are by far the most likely to re-offend. And, often enough, having made excuses the previous time(s), when they are caught, they try to convince themselves and the people close to them that it never happened before and would never, ever happen again. It was a weak moment, and caught them off guard. Or maybe ‘the child asked for it’ or ‘was such a needy child’ (as in the case mentioned above) and they thought that was what the child wanted.
Any time an offender offers anything beyond full ownership, repentance, and accepting consequences for their actions, they are high risk. These are men and women you don’t want near your children unattended. Ever. They are not safe. They are not repentant, beyond being sorry they got caught or found out, or feared they were about to get caught. And if that sounds judgmental, so be it. My Bible says that the repentant are supposed to produce fruits in keeping with repentance (Matthew 3:8) and that ‘by their fruits you will know them’ (Matthew 7:15). Excuses are not fruits in keeping with repentance, therefore by their fruits I determine they are not repentant.
If you care one iota for the well-being of children who are molested daily, and dare I say particularly in church settings, then please familiarize yourself with trademark excuses child molesters use. These excuses find ways to put blame on the child, and/or let the offender off the hook at least as far as ‘intent’ is concerned. (Reality check: when you touch a child sexually, your intent is sexual. The only exception is a child who is not sexually aware, touching another child.) These excuses create a sense of the perpetrator having been victimized by the child’s behaviour, and they “wouldn’t have done it if…” and “if only the child hadn’t…”
To the offenders I would ask, “Is it not enough that you have stripped their souls and pierced their spirits with one selfish act, and left them to fight hell and demons, often alone with no one to offer hope or understanding? Must you really blame them for it yet too, as though they committed soul suicide? Can you not just own your crimes, and at least leave them that bit of dignity to heal?”
And to family and friends of offenders, don’t take any comfort in the ‘goodness’ of the offender who makes these excuses that ‘at least it wasn’t preplanned or intentional’. No… let it do the exact opposite, and put you on guard around them. Any repentant offenders I have known–and yes, I have known them–have made no excuses and shifted no blame. They look very different than this. And extending the grace of Christ does not include overlooking how high risk such an offender is, and how high risk he/she will remain until the blame-shifting and excuses stop. It is criminal, the act itself, and vile to turn around and hold a child responsible.
Yes, the grace and blood of Jesus are enough for every sin. But no amount of grace can change an arrogant man or woman, until they recognize their sinfulness and fully own the crimes and sins committed. Matthew 18 has plenty to say about how God views children, and how He views those who offend children. And those who blame the children have twice offended. God will hold them accountable.
I posted this status on Facebook, as an appeal to the public to not buy into the lies of blaming children for adult crimes and sins:
Two children--not related--were molested locally by 2 different members of the same family. Word on the street is that the one 'had already done this to several other men' and 'asked for it'. And the other was a 'particularly needy' child, wanting attention. My heart is sick at hearing these things... I have moved way beyond feeling anger, to feeling a heaviness for which I have no words. Please, please people, don't buy into those lies and don't protect the offenders. This is so wrong, on so many levels. And the trusting/naive/ignorant audience is passing the info on as if it is legitimate.
Instinctively some will turn to feelings of anger, hatred and violence toward the offenders, and understandably so. But that is not the answer, nor is it my intent to stir that up. We need to fight for the children’s innocence, empower them to protect themselves, and believe their horrific experiences without turning to hate and violence (in word or in deed) if we want to be effective.
Creating awareness and understanding of the lies and excuses is critical, so people are aware of who is safe, who is not; who is repentant and who is not. (And, again, for those who say you can’t know, I disagree based on Matthew 3:8 and Matthew 7:15).
If we are wise and informed, it will go a long way in protecting the little ones among us and around us, rather than giving the perpetrators yet more power to destroy the children. There is no justice in that, and in Amos 5 God makes it pretty clear what He thinks of those who worship Him without justice and righteousness. He states that he is very aware of the ‘manifold transgressions’ and ‘mighty sins’, and how ‘justice’ is being diverted at the ‘gates’–symbolizing at the place where protection should be–and says He will not receive worship from those who do life that way.
He then pleads for His people to let justice flow like a water, and righteousness like a mighty stream. Justice (Hebrew ‘shaphat’: execute judgment; vindicate; pronounce judgment) and righteousness (Hebrew ‘tsedeq’: accurate; fair; righteous acts). These things are of great value to God, and we, His people, are called to value them too.
I choose justice and righteousness. What will you choose?
~ T ~