Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Who's your Boss? (Hint: It's not Your Pastor)

I recently read a church's position on a number of issues, including their "position" on women. Now, why a church has to have a "position" on women is beyond me. The Apostle Paul said in Galatians 3:28, "There is neither Greek nor Jew, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, but you are all one in Christ Jesus," so that pretty much puts the "issue" of women at rest for eternity.

For the record, women are not "issues" who need a policy. Women are joint heirs with Christ.

But, apparently, this church is so afraid a woman might teach a man that they created an entire policy to keep their women in line (cult much?). The church says, "The entire Bible teaches a hierarchy of roles for the home and the church..." and claims that "because the basis of this principle is grounded in the nature of creation...." and they depend on how "it was commonly applied in the original New Testament churches." They go on to say, "Galatians 3:28 (quoted above) affirms the equality of men and women. While the functioning of families and the church involve different roles for men and women, that distinction in no way implies superiority of either gender."

But, the problem is, none of this is true of what Scripture teaches. You can't have it both ways. You can't claim a God-given hierarchy, then tell the peons they are equal. Hierarchy, by its very definition, means they simply are not.

Hierarchy is defined as, "a system or organization in which people or groups are ranked one above the other according to status or authority." (Dictionary.com) Given that definition, which is consistent from other sources as well, I am confused as to how a church can tell its women they are equal when men are given authority and/or status above them and make rules for them. This particular church claims that "the entire Bible teaches a hierarchy of roles for the home and the church," but they fail to show where "the entire Bible" teaches this. (Hint: No part of the Bible teaches this; it is a man-made idea. This is Secular Humanism.)

The "equality" they speak of is not the same equality you are thinking of. Their equality means, yes, they have equal value as a human being because they are made in the image of God, but that's as far as their equality goes. Do you think they mean equal access to the Savior? No, they don't. They mean access to the Savior as long as their husband (or father if they are not married), approves and they look to him as a "spiritual head." They don't encourage women to be independent students of the Word, they encourage women to follow their husbands first and Jesus second. (Never, ever do this. This makes your husband an idol.)

This church's rule book also states, "we don't ask women to assume roles where authoritative teaching and discipline occur." Given this, a woman really has no authority over her own children if they are in the presence of any male church leader. What a danger! (Again, cult much?) This is exactly why Donn Ketcham, ABWE's star doctor, was able to create an environment of abuse and carry his pedophilia on for decades in Bangladesh. (ABWE = The Association of Baptists for World Evangelism and they condoned, covered up and spread their prized doctor's (Donn Ketcham) pedophilia in Bangladesh and Michigan.) The mission board (ABWE) and their supporting churches gave Donn Ketcham complete authority over the other missionaries lives, including the lives of their children. This was all a set-up; Donn Ketcham did this intentionally so he could carry out this pedophilia without hindrance. His entire reason for going and being there was to practice pedophilia and he did it with no resistance for decades. Read more about this here

There is no room for hierarchy of any kind in a church. Godly women don't follow this kind of teaching or support it in any way. The definition of pastor/elder/deacon/bishop goes against the teaching these pastors/elders/deacons/bishops promote. Their role is servant. They are servants, not authority holders. They are to serve, not police.

So, let's understand the use of the word "authority" in the New Testament. Authority does not mean power over someone else's life. Your pastors/elders/deacons/bishops do not have authority over your life; they can't demand you live a certain way and enforce that demand. Their authority comes with what they are preaching. They are to preach and teach with authority over what they are preaching, not over the lives of the listeners. That authority comes only through the true preaching of the Word. God has spoken and one - anyone - who teaches what God has spoken is doing it with the authority God built into His Word. They (we) have authority to preach and teach the Word because the Word is what carries the authority. They do not have the authority to boss your life. They do not have authority to promote their own ideas/interpretations. Also, there is no Scriptural basis for preventing women from having the same authority if they are teaching God's Word because, again, it's the Word that holds the authority, not the people teaching. Jesus, Himself, appointed the first evangelist - and it was a woman - and her words of His resurrection carried all the authority of that resurrection.

We also have a responsibility with God's Word when we are listeners. Even if we are not in a position of teaching or preaching, we have the responsibility to only follow those teachers/preachers/leaders who follow Christ. We are to make sure what they are teaching is in line with the Scriptures (Acts 17:11) and confront them if it is not. If you ever hesitate to question your pastor, know that any pastor worth their salt is not only open to questioning, but welcomes it and from anyone. Those who don't welcome questioning should not be teaching/preaching. You do not have to support those who refuse to submit to questioning. I personally scrutinize every single sermon I hear. I double check to make sure the preacher has stayed true to the context, to the consistency of God's character and does not cross over to Secular Humanism (an easy cross-over).

Deciding to join a church does place us in a position of submission so as not to disrupt the order of services, etc., but that position does not contain a hierarchy. We are all admonished to "Submit yourselves one to another" in Ephesians 5:21. Submission is not exclusively for women. We each, leaders and learners, are to submit one to another. Everyone, without exception, is to submit to the next person. This is not optional, but neither is it enforceable, i.e. no one can demand certain behaviors and/or actions from you.

I was visiting a church one time when a visiting preacher got up to preach. The first thing he said was, "I'm going to talk about Ephesians 5, but I don't want you to open your Bibles, I just want you to listen." Shocked, I looked around and saw nearly everyone lay their Bible beside them and not open it. Not me. I opened right up to Ephesians 5 and was dismayed to see that the man talked only of his own ideas and interpretations the entire time. Afterward, I confronted him. I introduced myself, told him I was a visitor and then told him I was dismayed that he'd asked people not to open their Bibles. Immediately, this man was sorry. He said, "You are absolutely right. I never, ever should have done that you can bet I'll never do it again. Thank you." I gotta say, that man had true humility. Yes, he really did thank me for confronting him.

Listen to every sermon you hear with a critical ear. Take no one's word for anything, but look it all up for yourselves. Question everything and if you can't find the answers in the Scriptures yourself, talk to the preacher and ask for clarification on what they said, then correct them if needed.

~Tricia




Saturday, March 10, 2018

Satan Gotcha Good, Church, Real Good

My ebook, The Poverty of Patriarchy, takes a look at the poverty (and resulting chaos) created by patriarchy. Despite what you've been taught in your church, patriarchy is not a Biblically condoned system of operation. When Jesus came, He blew patriarchy out of the water, yet the vast majority of evangelical churches retain it as though it's some badge of godliness that we should never abandon. And, those same evangelicals, instead of listening to someone with an opposing view, condemn us, call us liberals and limit their contact with us. They show no compassion or willingness to listen to something different than what they have been brought up to believe.

Of all things I've observed through encounters with these evangelical leaders, their lack of compassion speaks the loudest to me. They are immediately defensive and seem to be desperate to share their view at the expense of silencing mine. This experience has taught me that a lack of compassion is a first indicator of a lack of fellowship with Christ. These evangelicals are not all they are cracked up to be if they display a lack of compassion. They need to re-examine their relationship with Jesus and that requires getting down off their high horse.

This was especially evident to me when I revealed how an upsetting encounter with a janitor in the ladies room at First Baptist Church, Laurel, MD happened. You can read what happened here. I was met with anger, denial, threats, all kinds of name calling and many other ungodly responses from so-called Christians. But, there was one exception....one young man, when he heard about it from one of my sons, immediately said, "Is your mom ok?" He was the sole person, outside my family and true friends, who showed compassion. Even church leadership said, "That doesn't sound like Fitz." (The current pastor of that church did apologize, but as soon as the apology came out of his mouth, his wife negated it, saying I was "hurting the church." Um, no, Fitz is hurting the church and you all are by allowing him to continue to burst into the ladies room unannounced.)

That being said, it occurred to me this weekend that my book already needs a revision and update because I saw another missing avenue caused by patriarchy and I need to add this to the book. Billy Graham's funeral was broadcast over Facebook Live (and I'm sure other venues), so I was able to watch a portion of it. I heard all his kids give their testimonies of their father and one of his daughters said her resolve to preach the gospel wherever she went was strengthened due to her father's death.

As soon as I heard her say that, I realized that no evangelical church would dare let her go in their midst and preach the gospel. This was a stunning thought. Here is someone obviously moved and changed by the power of Jesus Christ, yet she would be prevented from sharing that gospel for one reason and one reason only: she's a woman.

Has the evangelical church as a whole limited the spread of the gospel by silencing their women and only allowing them to serve in a secondary role? I would not want to be guilty of this when I meet my Maker. Oh, my, I shudder to think of it.

For this reason alone, evangelical churches might want to revisit the Scriptures and discover for themselves that patriarchy is not God's intended way. Most churches depend more on tradition than Scriptural teaching when it comes to this issue. But, I repeat, Jesus blew patriarchy out of the water and we'd be wise to do the same.

Is patriarchy hindering the spread of the gospel? I believe it is. To allow half the followers of Christ to remain silenced is to hinder the spread of the gospel and that is not something I'm willing to be guilty of.

Satan gotcha good on this one, church, real good.

~Tricia

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Wives: Own Your Own Credit Rating

A young couple, newly married, was searching for a new home. The wife knew what she wanted and felt she needed in a home. Her plan was to stay home and be a homemaker when they had kids...and she was going to have their first in a few short months.

As this young wife and mother talked about her new potential home, she said the oddest thing. She said she was letting her husband pick the home since he's the "head" of the household. She said she was sitting back and letting him do this. 

And I thought she was thoroughly kidding herself. 
Let me tell you what's wrong with this scene.

First, if a wife has to "let" her husband lead, he's not leading at all. A leader does not need permission to lead, nor does a leader only lead if and when someone else steps back. The reality is, he is not "the leader" of the household. The reality is, they lead together whether they admit it or not.

Second, a wife has equal say in a home the couple is buying, especially if her name is on the mortgage, (but regardless if it is or not). Taking a back seat is not godly, it's irresponsible. Wives, if your name is on the mortgage, the car title or any other official document for joint ownership, you own it just as much as your husband and it is not ungodly or unladylike to assert yourself if that's what it takes to be an equal part of the process. 

There is no godliness in taking a step back. Taking a step back to let someone else "lead" indicates you have been in a leadership position and are relinquishing that position. This is a mistake. I know more than one wife whose credit rating has been ruined by her husband. This is financial abuse, pure and simple. 

Third, the husband had the opportunity to dispel this myth and tell her it was nonsense and make her an equal part of their marriage. Instead, he did not. He took her permission to be the "leader" and ran with it, touting his "leadership" in the process. And people in their lives fell for this. This man is not a leader....he doesn't meet even the simplest of definitions of a leader. There is thick wool over his eyes.

"Head of household" is a myth, borne out of patriarchy and wrongly assigned as "God's design" when nothing could be further from the truth. God didn't design this, this is completely man-made.

Wives, stop lying to yourselves. Embrace the equality that naturally occurs within a marriage whose partners love the Lord their God. Stop acting all "submissive" and embrace the power in decision making and tackling the world together with your husband. 

If you're in the habit of "letting" your husband do things, you are lying to yourself if you think he's the leader. Instead of living that lie, embrace Truth. Like it or not, you are equal with your husband and there's nothing ungodly or unholy in embracing and acting on this.

If your name is on the mortgage, car title, refrigerator purchase order or any other document showing joint ownership of anything, insist on full involvement in the process of buying, owning, disposing of and/or taking responsibility for that thing, whatever it is. You are simply embracing your already-positioned authority in ownership and power over your own credit rating.

Stop lying to yourself. Own your credit rating. 

~Tricia


Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Is Your Church Listening to Rachael Denhollander?

Church leaders should be flocking to read Rachael Denhollander's interview with Christianity Today. Pastors ought to take notes. Mothers who send their kids to the nursery, or children's church, or youth group need to read this, digest it, then read it again. You can read it by clicking here.

Rachael Denhollander ought to be in the pulpit, teaching congregations what forgiveness really is and preaching about seeking justice for the abused and be a voice for the silenced and victimized.

This strong young woman left no stone unturned. A few things rang very loud to me and I want to highlight those here. But, first, I want to say that Rachael experienced exactly what every other abuse victim experiences in the church: No one will listen.

My favorite parts of this interview are many:


We can tend to gloss over the devastation of any kind of suffering but especially sexual assault, with Christian platitudes like God works all things together for good or God is sovereign. Those are very good and glorious biblical truths, but when they are misapplied in a way to dampen the horror of evil, they ultimately dampen the goodness of God. Goodness and darkness exist as opposites. If we pretend that the darkness isn’t dark, it dampens the beauty of the light.

_______________________________________________________________________


When asked, Where did you find an answer? (To doubting God's goodness), she replied,

Going to Scripture directly.


There is no substitute. She did not go to the latest Bible study book by some well-known author. She did not seek out a publishing house or commentary or even a sermon or a conversation with a friend.
She went to the Scriptures directly and found the answers....all the answers.
They, the answers, are there.

____________________________________________________________________________


Church is one of the least safe places to acknowledge abuse because the way it is counseled is, more often than not, damaging to the victim. There is an abhorrent lack of knowledge for the damage and devastation that sexual assault brings. It is with deep regret that I say the church is one of the worst places to go for help. That’s a hard to thing to say, because I am a very conservative evangelical, but that is the truth. There are very, very few who have ever found true help in the church.

It is beyond sad to me that the church is considered one of the least safe places to acknowledge abuse. This is true of the vast majority of evangelical churches. This has to change. The path to change is going to be hard, but it is possible. More on this later.

____________________________________________________________________________

When asked what happened when she told her church she was going to speak up about what happened to her. she said in part:

 .......my status as a victim was used against my advocacy.

......rather than engaging with the mountains of evidence that I brought, because this situation was one of the most well-documented cases of institutional cover-up I have ever seen, ever, there was a complete refusal to engage with the evidence.

I have seen this happen time and time again. It's almost an automatic response. This response is so far from what the Bible teaches that one has to wonder how any church leadership can do this. Rather than realize a victim's advocacy is borne out of their victimization, making them especially qualified to be that advocate, church leadership dismisses it as biased. 
Who better to advocate for victims than another victim?
Certainly a bunch of men sitting around making rules for their church is not more qualified.

_______________________________________________________________________


When you support an organization that has been embroiled in a horrific 30-year cover-up of sexual assault, you know what that communicates to the world and what it communicates to other enablers and abusers within your own church. It’s very obvious that they are not going to speak out against sexual assault when it’s in their own community.

When reading this statement, I reminded myself that she was not talking about ABWE, the Association of Baptists for World Evangelism, a mission agency that allowed a pedophile doctor to practice his pedophilia in Bangladesh then covered it up for him for decades. Some leaders within ABWE, even to this day, are ones who were part of the cover-up. 
Her last sentence, "It's very obvious that they are not going to speak out against sexual assault when it's in their own community," speaks to ABWE as much as USA Gymnastics.

__________________________________________________________________________

When asked, "Why are we capable of seeing evil in other communities but not our own?" She responded, in part:

One of the dynamics that you see in a Christian church that is particularly devastating is poor theology. 
But often, if not always, people are motivated by poor theology and a poor understanding of grace and repentance and that causes them to handle sexual assault in a way where that a lot of predators go unchecked, often for decades. 

Poor theology. But, how can that be? How can one go to an evangelical Christian church and have poor theology? Isn't the preaching, the main avenue of teaching theology, enough?
It is not enough because pastors are not preaching, they are regurgitating what they've read in the latest commentary or book they've read. They are not expounding God's Word, they are expounding mankind's words. They are not citing Truth, they are citing catch phrases and acronyms. 
This has led to poor theology. This has led to a massive famine of doctrine.
People have become afraid of doctrine and want to feel good, have their comforts handed to them and go home to their first-world, privileged lives feeling like they are going to see special blessings from God because they "obeyed" Him and went to church.
Um, I hate to break it to you, but that's not how it works.
Rachael is 100% right.....poor theology contributes greatly to the problem of abuse within the church.

_______________________________________________________________________

When asked if she was apprehensive in telling her abuser she forgives him, she said, in full:

I did to an extent, because forgiveness can really be misapplied. Taken within the context of my statement, with the call for justice and with what I have done to couple forgiveness and justice, it should not be misunderstood. But I have found it very interesting, to be honest, that every single Christian publication or speaker that has mentioned my statement has only ever focused on the aspect of forgiveness. Very few, if any of them, have recognized what else came with that statement, which was a swift and intentional pursuit of God’s justice. Both of those are biblical concepts. Both of those represent Christ. We do not do well when we focus on only one of them.

This has also been our experience.
Focusing only on the forgiveness aspect of this is misguided thinking.
It is Secular Humanism, something very few Christians recognize.

___________________________________________________________________________

When asked what it means for her to forgive her abuser, she said, in full:

It means that I trust in God’s justice and I release bitterness and anger and a desire for personal vengeance. It does not mean that I minimize or mitigate or excuse what he has done. It does not mean that I pursue justice on earth any less zealously. It simply means that I release personal vengeance against him, and I trust God’s justice, whether he chooses to mete that out purely, eternally, or both in heaven and on earth.

It's incredibly sad and disheartening to me that so few Christians understand this.

____________________________________________________________________________


The first thing that has to happen to help this change in the church's response to sexual abuse to take place is, patriarchy has to die. 
Patriarchy gives power and there is no place for power in any church.
Pastors/deacons/elders/leaders are not in a position of power, they are in a position of servanthood. 
If there is no position of power, there can be no abuse of power.

If you have kids, you are their authority, not the pastor/deacon/elder/leader. 
You are the authority over everyone when it comes to your kids.

Read Rachael's interview.
Take notes.
~Tricia




Friday, January 26, 2018

"Leave Your Pain Here"

Judge Rosemarie Aquilina gave a voice to every single one of Larry Nassar's victims by allowing them, yea, inviting them, to give victim statements in the sentencing portion of his trial. The former gymnasts were all sexual abuse victims at the hand of the USA Gynmastics team's doctor, Larry Nassar. He abused them when they were at their most vulnerable.. The Honorable Rosemarie Aquilina gave those victims a voice like no other and because of that opportunity, and her response to them, they will heal much stronger than they ever thought possible.

Read her top 10 most powerful responses to their victim statements, as chosen by Glamour Magazine, here. Every single one of these made me cry. Then I read them a second time and they each made me cry again. Words can't even express the deep emotion Judge Aquilina's words stirred up in me and, no doubt, within the victims.

Judge Aquilina did what ABWE (The Association of Baptists for World Evangelism) did not do with the victims of their "star" doctor, Donn Ketcham. ABWE did not validate these victims. Instead of showing compassion, they immediately focused on "damage control." To this day, there is an imbalance of power within the organization and some of those people who were part of the cover-up are still in leadership.

The church does not know how to deal with abuse. 

The church will not listen to those who do know how to deal with abuse.


Some churches think they are doing something good when they handle abuse "internally," and not get "the world" aka, the police, involved. This is wrong. Organizations are required by law to report abuse and churches are to obey the law. (Romans 13:1,2)

Some churches hold the victim partially responsible for their abuse. This is wrong. A victim is never responsible for the actions of their abuser. 

Judge Aquilina's final statement, "Leave your pain here and go out and do your magnificent things," says so much. My statement analysis:

"Leave your pain here" acknowledges the realness of their pain. While some try to minimize a victim's pain, she gave it full acknowledgement and a place in their lives. It was already taking up place in their lives, as pain does in every victim. Acknowledging that pain actually shrinks it. Minimizing someone's pain causes it to grow; it's only through full acknowledgement that healing can start. Many people minimize the pain of others because they, themselves, can't cope with it. Get over it, it's not about you. It's about the victim. Give them every acknowledgement you can and then some. This statement also lets the victims know they have finally found a safe place....here. Leave it here. Here, where the judge can put it in its proper place - the past - and paint a future you never could have imagined.

"and go out" acknowledges that they now have the freedom the abuse initially took away. They have it back. They are free to go out - and be out - and impact the world even more than they already have. This shows a stark contrast to their abuser because it shows that he no longer holds the power. They can go out - he cannot. He got a 175-year sentence; he can't go out. They can go out and he no longer has the power to do anything about that.

"and do your magnificent things" lets these victims know that what they have done, what they are doing and what they will do are all magnificent things. Magnificent is defined as "impressively beautiful, elaborate, extravagant, striking." So, Judge Aquilina said in effect, "do your impressively beautiful, elaborate, extravagant and striking things." 

If every victim was given a voice, if every victim was given acknowledgement, if every victim was given validation, if every victim was given vindication, we could start to put a stop to the rampant abuse going on around us. 

The church should be leading this, but it is so full of victims it can't find its way. 

Church leaders, don't think for a minute that this is confined to USA Gymnastics or to ABWE or to some entity that does not touch you. I guarantee you this: there are victims in your seats and many of them have been abused on your watch, right under your nose. What are you going to do about it?

~Tricia







Sunday, January 21, 2018

BANNED! But Still Qualified?

I learned this week that a church, in response to a man who said some disturbing things about his interaction with a baby in the nursery, banned all men from the nursery. All men....banned.

Let's get this straight....instead of dealing with the man who has the problem, this church put all men in the category of being a danger to babies and banned them all, even the fathers of the babies who stay in the nursery.


Yet, even though all men are banned from the nursery, men in that church continue to serve in other leadership roles in the church. Wait, what?

Again, let me get this straight. The men are all deemed to be a danger to babies, yet the men are qualified to serve as deacons, pastors, teachers, trustees and supervisors of other ministries? Uh, no. No they are not.

This is a good example of a church refusing to deal with sin. One man has a problem and instead of dealing with that problem, the church put all men in his category and declared them all a danger to babies. They brought down all their men to cover the sins of one (really two in this case). How can the other men, the men who didn't have a questionable interaction with a baby, allow themselves to be aligned with the one who did?

When the pastor and his wife were given the opportunity to know who the guilty men are in this situation, they refused to listen. Instead, they want all their men to be thought of as potentially abusive to babies. Every single man in the church is banned from the nursery. Get that. Let that sink in. If you are a father in that church and you take your baby to the nursery, you are NOT ALLOWED to enter the room where your baby is being held. How can there not be legal ramifications to a man not being allowed in the same room as his own child?

This is all so deeply disturbing. What else are they hiding?

If you are a father and you go to a church that will not allow you to be in the same room as your baby or toddler, get out of that church as fast as you can.

If you know the men in a church are not allowed in the nursery but are allowed to "serve" in other ministries, get out as fast as you can.

Men who are not qualified to serve in the nursery are not qualified to serve anywhere.

How can the moms of these babies and toddlers tolerate their husbands being aligned with abusers? How can they stand by and let their men be dragged through the mud of abuse without speaking out against it? Oh, wait, I forgot.....women in church are rarely allowed to speak out. So, churches like this get to make rules that turn all men into abusers and the women have to sit down and shut up about it.

Aly Raisman, Olympic gymnastics hero, recently addressed the judge and the court in her victim statement in the sentencing trial of her abuser, Larry Nassar. You can watch that statement here. She is brave and heroic for speaking out, as are all the victims speaking out. She pointed out that her abuser served on the very committees designed to keep athletes safe, yet he was the biggest perpetrator all the time! Think about that.....this is also true in your church. The men are the leaders, the men make the policies, the men have the voices, yet the vast majority of the time, the men are the abusers!

Don't you see? The male dominance in your church is part of the grooming process used to keep abuse alive. In this particular church, all men are deemed unsafe to be around babies and their wives sit back and quietly let this happen. I would not. If I had ever been in a church that restricted my husband's access to his own children, I would leave immediately.

Jesus was trusted with children. If the men in your church are not, they are nothing like Jesus.
Choose your servants wisely.
~Tricia

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Is Your Pastor a Criminal? (It's more likely than you think.)

Another pastor's sexual abuse of a minor came to light recently. You can read about it here in Amy Smith's blog, Watch Keep.

The young woman was 17 years old when her youth pastor took her out to an isolated place at night and sexually assaulted her. Immediately after the horrific act, he "apologized" and then instructed her to keep it quiet and "take it to the grave."

Some people, even people in her own church, believe she was a "willing participant" and even an "opportunistic woman."

The church was not a safe place for this young woman. She suffered the worst devastation of her life in, and because of, the church.

People, this is preventable. One of the problems with abuse in the church is people's fear of talking about it. The church likes to keep their sin quiet so the world doesn't find out. This is why many perpetrators seek churches specifically as a place to find their victims. They know their secrets are more likely to stay secret in a church more than any other place on the planet. So, they go to churches, they put on the costume of righteousness and they begin grooming their victims.

So, the first thing to do to help prevent abuse is: Stop the silence.

Another thing perpetrators do is make sure their victims are seen as equally responsible for the abuse. This is done by making sure the victim is somehow framed in a negative light. In the young woman's story referenced above, she was immediately painted as "unforgiving" and "bitter" because she spoke out. She was told not even to talk to her own parents! She was not validated or treated with respect. He abused her, he gave her a faux apology, then painted her as the problem for her "unforgiveness." Realize this is part of the grooming; a part of the plan from the start. There is no reactionary behavior from the perpetrator....his actions are all planned out from the start, even his "faux apologies."

So, the second thing to do to help prevent abuse is: Keep all blame on the perpetrator.

In this particular case, this youth pastor's superiors went along with his cover-up. The girl was so traumatized that she finally said something to some trusted women in the church. Oh, but those women weren't to be trusted because they went right to the pastors and the girl got in trouble for telling! They should have gone to the authorities. She was further traumatized and further victimized by her own fellow church members. Gossip ensued, making everything worse, which it always does. What should have happened: the authorities should have been called and it should have been reported. The act itself is criminal and not reporting such an act is also criminal. So, at that point, you have criminals - people actively breaking the law - running your church. And, in this case, the perp got a standing ovation. My word.

So, the third thing to do to help prevent abuse is: Report the abuse to the authorities.

Some people think that if it's handled "internally" within the church, it's over. However, the law of the land, which we are commanded in Scripture to obey, says otherwise. We don't get to decide which points of the law we obey.

If your church is known for not being silent, for not blaming victims and for calling the authorities on criminals, a perpetrator is more likely to look elsewhere for victims. You see, perpetrators scout out their victims. They don't wake up and randomly find a victim....oh, no....they plan, plot, set themselves in a position to do their dastardly deeds and groom their victims carefully. That grooming takes time, is done meticulously and done with intent. A perpetrator will know if your church allows these things to be "handled internally" or if they are handled properly and legally. This is part of their scouting process; they have to know how a church will handle them.

If your church handles things "internally," you are more likely to have perpetrators in your midst.

This can be prevented. It doesn't have to happen.
More to come on this subject. One blog post can't possibly cover every point.
~Tricia