Half a century ago I was fifteen.
Struggling with a teen relationship known as a “steady,” I requested prayer from the youth pastor one evening during our church’s fall youth retreat. He instructed me to wait till all others had retired to their cabins and he would “counsel” me. Broken hearted about being jilted by my first boyfriend and very naïve, I complied. The youth “pastor” listened to my woeful tale and “comforted” me with gentle hugs and soft kisses to my cheek. It was just the prelude. Months of counseling finally climaxed with a ride home after church. Instead of the direct route home he took the scenic route, which included a stop on a dirt road in a wooded area of town. Need I say more?
When the illicit relationship was finally brought to light, the offending minister was quietly dismissed under the guise of being “called “ to another pastorate. (No one wanted to taint this promising young “man of god’s” future). After the fact,
I remember being asked to come and meet with our senior pastor, which happened to be the leader of the largest church in our mid-sized community. I think his job was to console me but what actually happened is that he laid the blame of the whole affair at my feet. I can still hear his voice, so full of spiritual authority, accurately “prophesying” my life’s plight. “God has made you beautiful and you must guard against this the rest or your life.” And he was right.
It was not the last time I would find myself on the receiving end of men in authority using their positions to garner sexual favors for their lustful appetites.
This now ubiquitous hash-tag has made the headlines throughout the news and social media outlets. Women are speaking up from every venue of what they have endured at the hands of predatory men in authority over them. Most of them reporting incidents that have occurred years or decades ago. Somehow time does not heal this wound.
Perhaps it is the intimacy of the trespass that evades recovery; the defilement of one’s heart of heart for someone else’s passing fancy. The inequity is enormous.
It would be nice to be able to blame the “sexual revolution” of the 70’s or the ramped pornography of the new millennium for such illicit activity. Unfortunately the abuse I was subjected to occurred before both of those milestones. We will have to lay it to the sin nature of mankind. “ For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Whether it is cloaked in the robes of the celibate priesthood of the Catholic Church, the fellowship halls of the full-gospel congregants or the dark-wooded studies of denominational pastorates, it is sin of the worst kind. In fact, Jesus had this to say about transgressions against children: "If anyone causes one of these little ones--those who believe in me--to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea.” (Mark 9:42). Have you ever heard a sermon preached on this subject with this verse applied to it? Of course not.
How prevalent is this problem? I recall a retreat that I was speaking at a few years ago. There were 12-15 Christian women at this meeting. As the evening progressed and the Lord starting relieving the burden of battered hearts through prayers of deliverance, we were all amazed that every woman present had experienced molestation as a child; many at the hands of a man in spiritual authority. Mark 9:42.
Is this the unpardonable sin? Well, the way I read the bible, the one sin that cannot be forgiven in this life and the life to come is blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. (Mark 3:29). So, let me ask you this, if a Christian man feels lustful toward a child and does not control that feeling by the power of the Holy Spirit does it become blasphemy? In other words when the Holy Spirit puts a check in a man’s heart against acting out a sexual sin and the man ignores the check, is that blaspheming the Holy Spirit by denying Him control of one’s body? Just asking. Think about it.
The Lord has brought me to Himself and destroyed the power of the enemy in so many areas of my life. I am eternally grateful. In some areas I am still a work in progress, as we all are. However, the dark specter of sexual sin is a shadow that I am not totally free from. The glorious light of the gospel draws me closer to perfection but I am still in need of the hidden darkness of the past being ever more deeply purged by the all-seeking destroyer of sin’s stain: the penetrating and powerful blood of Jesus. Please keep in mind the blood’s power to purge is not a one time, one size fits all experience; it touches what we allow it to touch and penetrates that which we present to be purged, layer upon layer and precept upon precept, often one memory at a time. He is faithful.
If you are reading this and the mist of misfortunate memories starts to fill your mind, don’t blow them away without presenting them to the only One that can bring you to wholeness. Let the tears flow. Don’t be afraid to voice the hard questions, Jesus can take your anger. He of all people understands injustice. He will weep with you and then cleanse the vilest of wounds. He is the Great Physician.
Additionally, if you are in need of God with skin on, I am available to hear your story and pray the prayer of deliverance and forgiveness. It is the way to victory. Jesus saves, Jesus heals and Jesus delivers. Amen.
In conjunction with Betts Ministries a “Healing from Sexual Abuse Retreat” has been scheduled in mid January of 2018. If you are interested in attending please contact bettsminsistries.org.