The Impact of Sexual Abuse on Church Families

Caitlin ReynoldsBlogLeave a Comment

[TRIGGER WARNING: This blog includes a reference to a sexual abuse story and it may bring back memories for survivors. If at any moment you feel uneasy, remember your care is important. Stop reading and immediately connect with someone who can pray with and for you. If you have not sought professional help regarding your own abuse, please do so. I want to see you begin your healing and I pray you get the support you need and deserve.]

Once upon a time, there was a king. This king had two sons and a daughter. One of the king’s son was in love with his sister. Perhaps he thought because she was a half-sister (sharing the same father, but different mothers), his desire for her was allowed. But then again, perhaps, overcome by his desire, he lost his mind and only cared about what he wanted. So great was his lust for his innocent sister (oh, did I mention she was a virgin?), that he plotted a wicked plan to get her alone in his bedroom. He faked an illness, and his sister (or half-sister, if you take on his mindset) was asked to care for him. When she was alone with her lust driven brother, he attacked the poor girl and forced her to have sex with him. In other words, this king’s son raped his half-sister. Afterward, his warped mind went even further to the dark side. After he got what he wanted, his love for her turned to hate. He treated her as if she was something foul. He had a servant drag her from his home.

When news about the sexual assault reached the king, he was angry, but guess what? He didn’t do a thing. He didn’t reprimand his son. He didn’t comfort his daughter. The king’s only kingly action (when he had the power to do so much more) was to get angry. Yet, he continued to march around the palace as if nothing had happened. He did not acknowledge the rape.

When news about the sexual assault reached the daughter’s whole brother (they had the same mother and father), he let her live in his home and for two years plotted his revenge. The plan required luring his half-brother to his home for a celebration. By this time, his half-brother had put all this behind him and continued his life in king’s son style. During the celebration, the brother killed his half-brother and then he ran for his life, fearing the king would harm him for the fulfillment of revenge.

And what about the young girl? The culture of her people required her to live like she was no longer pure (no longer a virgin) and no longer worth marrying.

I won’t say “THE END” because there is so much more to this story, but I will stop here. Does the story sound familiar? It is the biblical account of events between King David’s two sons, Absalom and Amnon, and his daughter, Tamar. When you read the full account in 2 Samuel: 13-18, David’s decision to leave the crime unpunished costs him much. His family became dysfunctional and his leadership was threatened. The sexual assault ripped his family apart. This is what we are doing when we don’t acknowledge the sin of sexual abuse in our churches. We magnify the impact when the abuser is a leader in the church, but we choose to hide behind the cross. Our inaction rips the church family apart.

Paul saw the impact of sexual immorality on the church in Corinth. He told the church how to handle it. They didn’t need to assemble conferences and hold private counseling sessions with the one committing the sin. They already knew he was not going to stop and repent. In 1 Corinthians 5:1-5, Paul reprimands the church for not dealing with this case of sexual sin. He says even non-church goers wouldn’t put up with it and yet the church was celebrating it instead of dealing with it. In verses 6 through 8 of chapter 5, Paul understood and addresses the deadly impact of not dealing with sexual sin. It has the power to rip apart the church because it grows like cancer to other areas of the church body.

The #ChurchToo movement and advocate organizations, like GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment), are here because we chose to hide the sin of sexual abuse and to ignore the victims of its actions. We are a people who gave our hearts to Christ. If we sincerely did this, then our hearts were taken over by Him and the desire for our will was removed. People with these kinds of hearts help victims heal, remove abusers from environments where they can continue to abuse and assure the abuse is stopped through legal justice and spiritual healing.

We know what we should do and until we do it, the sin of sexual abuse will not be a black eye on God, but a black eye on his Church.