I love this present world. So much so that I know I will fight to stay in it when it comes time for me to go to the next one. Even though I am totally sure that my Saviour has made the next world stunningly, amazingly beautiful, beyond anything one could even comprehend while here . . . (I also believe that eternity will occur on a remade earth, but that is the subject for another post . . .).
Nonetheless, one cannot be here long without realizing there is some very real evil in this world. To be succinct, all stories about sexual exploitation have several things in common (and let’s be honest about them from the beginning):
1. They are *always based on an imbalance of power, with one person treating another person as an object just because they can . . . Part of the humiliation of sexual abuse is the opportunism of it. No one likes to realize that another person has so stripped their humanity from them that they perceive them on the same level as a table or chair in the room.
2. They are *never about sex, but about a power play. Sexual predators get sexually excited at the idea of being able to have sex *without the other person’s consent.
3. They occur in *every strata of society.
Think of this last point. Josh Duggar’s current situation shows us that the fundamentalist “quiverful” movement has as much perversion as the other parts of society it tries to avoid. I, for one, would have much more respect for the Duggars had they incorporated the story of Josh and his sisters into their television narrative from the beginning (since it happened before the show began), revealing to an American public that mostly doesn’t understand sin and redemption how a family can legally and purposefully deal with the sins and infractions of fallen people in a fallen world. *That would have been a good (and honest) story of God’s grace. Not the way they handled it, covering it up while they criticized the fallen sexuality of other people. (And, no, I don’t regard it as “their family’s business” because once they crossed the line into a reality television show, their family’s business became America’s business, ya see!).
Even while we contemplate the story arc of the Duggars, we are still hearing from other parts of our sexually fallen world.
There are still accusations surfacing in the Catholic church about priests abusing children of both genders. And why would that not be so? Priests are revered and trusted. They are allowed to be alone with people, at confession and otherwise. Predators know that!
There is still the fallout of the Jerry Sandusky scandal at Penn State. He started a foundation for disadvantaged boys that allowed the boys to think they could have a future in college football, as long as they didn’t mind being sodomized in a shower . . . (I am being purposely shocking here because we need to be shocked by the idea that some people start foundations to reach out to disadvantaged kids because they *know they will have an inherent imbalance of power with these kids!).
There is a breaking story in England about high powered entertainers, politicians, sports figures, etc. who, for decades, had a pedophile ring in London using . . . disadvantaged kids they brought in from London’s East End (the poorer area of town). Jimmy Savile is only the tip of the iceberg in this sordid story. Apparently there were luxury apartment complexes and hotels that were regularly used to wine and dine these kids into thinking it was okay for an adult to penetrate them. So utterly sick! God help us.
When NPR was talking about the above story last week, they mentioned that it seemed to originate in the boarding school culture of England–kids would be separated from their families and would be hungry to fit in. The teachers and staff at the schools often exploited an imbalance of power to draw these children into their webs.
I found myself glad that my husband was solidly middle class in England and never went to boarding school!
I also found myself glad, earlier this year, when reading about the specific situation with priests in Ireland in the early 20th century (lots of exploitation of kids in orphanages), that my inlaws (who grew up in Ireland) remained in intact families, even while not always having much money.
Such sickness, with imbalance of power leading to exploitation, time after time after time.
Yes, there are pockets of this beautiful world that are real cesspools, largely due to the fallen human race and the depravity our hearts can imagine when we are not fixed on Christ.
Some practical tips that parents and other people who influence children can take from all of this sordidness:
1) Don’t let your children be alone with adults. Never, ever, ever. It doesn’t matter that 99% of clergy are probably trustworthy. You don’t want to encounter that 1%. And since they are predators, they will be experts at hiding, blending in, and talking the religious talk so that you will think they are truly holy people . . . until you find out what they are doing to your child.
2) Be aware that evil can lurk *anywhere. Don’t put your trust in man. We are *all totally depraved. Our only hope is in Christ. Don’t trust a foundation for disadvantaged youth, don’t trust a college, don’t trust even your church unilaterally. If you are a Christian, trust Christ and Christ alone.
I call this the 95% confidence factor. I trust other people who seem trustworthy 95% but I will never trust them blindly. I don’t even trust my husband blindly after 26 years (he is at a 99% confidence factor). This seems to be the best we can do in a fallen world, guys.
3) Check your pride at the door. If you need to groom your image more than you need to protect your children, you may encounter issues at some point. God help you if you decide incorrectly when you do. A specific example would be if an adult is making an argument for being alone with your child and . . . it is important to you to remain in that adult’s good graces. Think how easy it would be to give in, just this once, and let the adult spend time alone with your child. But what if you have miscalculated and have sent your child away with a predator???
4) Hiring babysitters is going to be a problematic situation no matter what you do, especially if you have an only child (there can be strength in numbers). It is probably best to *avoid those who keep asking *you to let them babysit. Choose someone who seems responsible and approach that person. Get references, check what goes on in your home when you are gone and . . . pray a lot. As the Josh Duggar story has shown us, even young teens can be guilty of unspeakable evil.
I pray this post has added some light to a rather heated situation. Wisdom comes only from God, but these observations are what I have learned over a lifetime so far!