To the Brave Ones

May 22, 2014Heal from the past, Not Marked

I haven’t publicly commented on the Nathaniel Morales case–a man who was convicted last week on five counts of sexual molestation. (He faces more trials with more victims.)

Unfortunately, sexual abuse of children is not an uncommon thing. It runs rampant in this broken world. What is scandalous is the confirmed fact that the church leadership who became awareof the predator’s crimes never reported him to authorities. Instead, they remained silent. From reports of the trial:

“Covenant Life Church former pastor Grant Layman admitted on Tuesday while testifying about allegations against Nathaniel Morales that he withheld incriminating information from the police about the abuse.

Public defender Alan Drew asked Layman if had an “obligation to report the alleged abuse?”

“I believe so,” he replied.

“And you didn’t?” asked Drew, to which Layman responded “no.”” source here.

I am not one to swear. But this situation makes me want to. Loud and angry. Because this should NOT BE SO {excuse the hollering!} A parent who reports a church member’s molestation and rape of his/her child to the church leaders should KNOW that the leadership will report the perpetrator to the authorities.

Sadly, and terribly, they kept silent. Leaders seemed to prefer the safety of silence and the need for protected reputation over the cry of the victims and their parents.

Jesus must weep at it all. I know I do.

{Here’s a great recapping of my frustration written eloquently by Boz Tchividjian.}

Why is it that the church is more concerned for its reputation than protecting the innocent? (Click to tweet). I could go on, but I’ll share some of my tweets from last week that summarize exactly how I feel about this particular situation.

Here are my tweets:

Christian leaders represent Jesus Christ. And Jesus gathered children on His lap. He spoke of millstones for those who caused children to stumble. I believe that extends to those who fail to protect. I wrote about that here.

As I mentioned above and in my book Not Marked: Finding Hope and Healing After Sexual Abuse, some of my greatest anger in the aftermath of my own rapes was dealing with a babysitter who knew what was going on, but chose to blatantly ignore it. She did not tell my family. She did not report it to the authorities. In fact, she let those boys continue to violate me, even after I told. Which makes me think she knew all along.

When you dare to tell such a terrible story, you face further violation from your confidant’s inactivity.

For those who have been sexually abused and then not believed, or harassed after you told, or had people who were supposed to protect you turn their backs, these verses are fore you:

“I will gather you who mourn for the appointed festivals;
you will be disgraced no more.
And I will deal severely with all who have oppressed you.
I will save the weak and helpless ones;
I will bring together
those who were chased away.
I will give glory and fame to my former exiles,
wherever they have been mocked and shamed.
On that day I will gather you together
and bring you home again.
I will give you a good name, a name of distinction,
among all the nations of the earth,
as I restore your fortunes before their very eyes.
I, the Lord, have spoken!” {Zephaniah 3:18-20}

Rest, dear, BRAVE friend, in knowing that JESUS sees all this. And He will make things right. It might not be evident right now, but He is in the business of justice. I know how difficult it’s been. I can feel your pain. And I know how awful it is to be so terribly, amazingly brave to tell your story, only to be shushed or silenced or ridiculed or re-shamed.

You are the brave ones, those who have endured such suffering and dared to tell about it. Keep sharing your truthful story. Keep walking tall. Remember Jesus sides with the oppressed and He loves to dignify victims.

You are resilient, friend, and I am so proud of you, you beautiful brave soul. Let Jesus mete out justice for those who hurt you, for those who neglected to protect, for those who silenced you for the sake of reputation, for those who demanded you forgive easily, as if you were swatting away a fly.

Jesus holds your story close to Himself. And not one soul can pull the wool over His eyes when it comes to your pain. Folks may hide behind platitudes and cries for tolerance or pleas for protecting reputation, but Jesus knows better. Oh how He loves His little children.

If you’d like to read more about my healing journey (and how that intersected my marriage), pick up a copy of my latest book, Not Marked (Click image). It is also an audio book now! Woot!