Q&A on Issues Raised in the Book
"I was abused, but I live in a corrupt neighbourhood where victims of abuse are intimidated to remain silent, and where anybody who witnesses abuse is unwilling to get involved because the 'community' looks down on anyone who goes to the police. And when a victim does report what has happened, their credibility is always questioned. In this sort of environment, how is a victim of abuse supposed to speak up? Surely it would be better to suffer in silence than to deal with the ignominy of coming forward?"
I’m so sorry to learn that you suffered childhood abuse. You raise an excellent point about the issue. For various reasons, it can indeed seem too daunting to speak up about what one has suffered. Here are some tips which may prove of use...
Physical, sexual or psychological abuse of children is no longer seen as rare in the West. Such things are now considered relatively common, especially since the whole situation within Roman Catholicism finally hit the headlines in 2002, so the ignominy you understandably speak of is much less than it was in our day.
I think the most important tip is for abuse survivors to get as “right as they sensibly can” with God and to pray for the strength, wisdom, courage and other resources to cope with what disclosure will bring, and to pray for God's help and guidance generally.
Next, I recommend getting "all one's ducks in a row" - by which I mean trying to remember, and write down, all relevant information about the abuse, the abuser, and so on. By writing these things down, it will enable the victim’s brain to recall further aspects of the trauma, all of which will help strengthen their case and boost their confidence about revealing what has occurred. Researching the background (e.g. discreetly asking appropriate people what they can remember about a particular place, person or event) can also help one's mind to recall relevant facts.
I also highly recommend that any survivor, wherever possible, organises a 'support system' of folks around them to provide comfort, solidarity etc to help give them the wherewithal to deal with what will come. In other words, the survivor should seek to gather around them a group of people who know them and who therefore know that they are telling the truth. (The survivor needs to ensure the group only includes people who will treat the information confidentially.)
If, even with all the above in place, the survivor still doubts whether it is worthwhile going to the authorities, I think they need to bear in mind the effects of staying silent. Not only does silence help the abuser to continue committing terrible crimes against defenseless children, but it has three additional negative effects:
(1) Silence means other children who do report their abuse are less likely to be believed, because the silence of other victims will give the impression that such things happen less frequently than is actually the case, and so the reported abuse will seem to carry a lower probability of being true.
(2) Silence means people in society will be less likely to watch out for any such abuse taking place, for the same reason as in (1).
(3) Silence also means that, when abuse does happen in a given situation (e.g. in a fellowship or a small town), the people there will be even more embarrassed than is entirely appropriate, because they will think the problem is rarer in that situation than is the case, and they will therefore feel even more desperate to cover it up – and so the silence continues.
In an ideal world, it is for those around the survivor to ‘draw out’ from the survivor what has happened and provide a supportive-enough environment for the victim to feel able to open up about what has happened. Unfortunately this is seldom the case, so the survivor needs to take the initiative. But survivors need to be brave and speak the truth about abuse, for the sake of themselves and everyone else. The victim is very unlikely to get closure and full healing of their abuse if they just bottle it up.
"Your book rightly points out many problems with reliance on background checks, but aren't such checks also a problem when false allegations have been made by, say, a jealous teenager?"
Absolutely. Unsaved teenagers these days are increasingly making false allegations of abuse against innocent people, and these are very likely to be picked up by an enhanced criminal records check. Even where no such allegation has been made, background checks have often been known to flag issues erroneously. Both of these facts mean reliance on background checks could result in the perfect candidate being discarded from the church, potentially denying the children the youth worker God wanted for them.
"Your book suggests that ungodly, Nicolaitan elderships try to palm abusive ministers off onto other churches because doing so serves the original elderships in various ways. Could you elaborate on these benefits?"
molestation has occurred, and if an eldership gets even the faintest
whiff of it, they will unfortunately benefit in the following ways
from immediately (but very quietly) insisting the perpetrator moves
(a) The perpetrator can no longer access the child/children in question, so the elders greatly reduce the risk of embarrassment and/or financial problems arising from the victim(s) reporting the abuse to the authorities.
(b) Similarly, the perpetrator cannot gain access to any other children in the church or local area in the future.
(c) If the parents of the victim(s) should happen to suspect, or even know for sure, about the abuse, the disappearance of the elder will reduce the likelihood of them pressing charges against him, because they will just be relieved that their children are safe from further molestation and that none of them have the trauma of having to share the church with the abuser anymore. (The child is likely to assume from the disappearance that God is punishing the perpetrator and that the elders took the child’s side. This too will please the parents.) These things, combined with the 30+ techniques exposed here for keeping parents from going to court, will usually prove to be sufficient for unrighteous elderships to keep the abuse covered up.
Some readers may wonder why elders would take the risk of appearing to help an abuser evade justice in this way, especially since the elders could be taken to court themselves for doing so. The sad fact is that the elders will usually ensure there is no hard evidence that they did anything to help the perpetrator move. And even in the unlikely event that hard evidence exists and reaches the ears of the authorities, the elders will simply claim they didn’t know about any molestation. Proving otherwise in a court of law is invariably difficult.
"A number of scriptures, including all five chapters of John's first epistle, seem to teach that sound Christians should be able to discern a false brother operating among them, so how is it possible that Judas deceived the Eleven?"
think there are four observations worth making on
(1) Apart from Judas' theft and general carnality over money, I'm not sure Scripture lets us know much about his spiritual condition in the early stages of his time with the Lord. It was apparently quite some time into Christ’s ministry before He described Judas as "a devil". It seems plausible to me that, in the early days, Judas was sounder, or at least more spiritually gifted, than we sometimes assume. After all, Scripture indicates that Judas was able to minister with the rest of the disciples when they went out “two by two”, and was able to preach in the power of the Holy Spirit (Matt. 10:1-15), and move in the genuine healing power of the Holy Spirit (Mark 6:7).
(2) The disciples did not have access to the Spirit of God in the same way prior to the cross that they did afterwards, and so their discernment when Judas was alive was presumably not as good as that which is expected of Christians today .
(3) But by far the biggest reason why Judas was able to deceive the Eleven was that God required him to do so. For the vital (and unique) purpose Judas had in God's plan, God needed the other disciples to fail to spot Judas for what he was - and God therefore blinded them to the truth about him. Since Judas’ role was unique, he was a special case and he was not representative when it comes to Christians discerning false brothers in a church. I honestly can't see why God would cause false brothers to be able to go unnoticed today by sound Christians, who have the “mind of Christ” let’s remember (1 Cor. 2:16).
(4) As articles ONE and TWO in the series entitled Beware False Balances explain, Judas was actually the ‘exception which proves the rule’ that sound Christians can discern false brothers in their midst. The five chapters of John’s first epistle could not be clearer on this matter as far as I can see.
 Additionally, the disciples may not have thought it their place to check for false brothers among the group that Christ had chosen. It may also be possible that one or more disciples did develop a concern about Judas at times but didn’t follow it up because they trusted the Lord to know about it and do whatever was necessary. Neither of these apply to our church situation today.
"Since pedophilia exists within some parts of the animal kingdom, why is it wrong for humans?"
It is true that, in certain sections of the animal kingdom, you can find sexual activity by the sexually mature on the sexually immature. I'm told it is found in stoats and in pygmy chimpanzees. I presume it is present in at least a few other corners too. But there are four reasons why it is totally inappropriate to use this as an excuse for pedophile activity by humans:
(a) Firstly, we aren't animals! The Bible draws a clear delineation between mankind and the animal kingdom. (And even if someone insists that humans are animals, they must surely accept that an activity which is found in one or two species doesn't automatically make the activity 'natural' in others!)
(b) A lot of other terrible things also exist in the animal kingdom, including rape, cannibalism when other food is available, and murder of infants merely for the purposes of causing the mother to go 'on heat', but no Christian in their right mind would claim that the appearance of these things in the animal kingdom makes them 'natural' for humans.
(c) Pedophile activity is clearly unnatural for humans, due to the various types of serious damage (physical and otherwise) which accrue from that behaviour. (See pages 88-9 and 113 of the book Preying for more details on the damage pedophilia causes.)
(d) A human couple are, biblically, supposed to be 'equally yoked'. This precludes a developed person (i.e. an adult) mating with an undeveloped person (i.e. a child).
"What qualified you to write this book?"
There are a number of
qualifications I could mention:
(a) I’ve researched the subject of the book at length. Over the years, I’ve spoken to: abusers, men with pedophilic tendencies, survivors, families of victims, ministers, congregants, counsellors, and also to other researchers.
(b) While I didn’t personally experience child molestation myself, I reckon this actually gives me a more objective position from which to write. Equally though, I don’t feel lacking in qualification to talk from a victim’s perspective, partly because I have ministered to survivors, but also because I suffered a severe childhood trauma myself, albeit of a non-abuse variety. (I did also suffer a non-negligible amount of physical and emotional abuse as a child – not from my parents I hasten to add.)
(c) If a topic comes up in the book in which I’m not an expert myself yet, I make sure to go to experts in that field.
(d) When boiled down, all of the central issues associated with molestation in a Christian context are spiritual. For instance, the most damaging effect on a victim is the spiritual effect, and the most crucial key to properly restoring a victim is spiritual; the perpetrator is both assisted and prompted by spiritual forces, and the only sensible solution to keeping a church safe and to fully rehabilitating an offender is spiritual. Thus, any decent book on this subject must avoid relying on human wisdom but must be written by someone who is a sound believer, and (while obviously fallible) I sincerely believe my ministry over the last fifteen years shows that I am such. (I have received hundreds of messages from readers, and others I have ministered to, which also testify to this.)
All of this said, I would argue that the pivotal qualification for writing any truly sound book is that God called the author to write the book (and that God then oversaw it), rather than the author writing it off their own bat. I can say without any doubt that God did so in this case. Hopefully readers will discern this for themselves as they consider the most significant aspects of the book's content. But there is a further reason to believe God's hand was on the book. Not one line of the book required hyphenation. And every line of text in the body of the book, unless involving a quote or the opening line of a paragraph, has come out in such an orderly way that there is never space left over to insert so much as a pair of 'a's before the text starts to wrap onto the next line. If the reader thinks I could have engineered this throughout the book, I urge them to try repeating the feat for themselves to produce even just a single page of sensible English prose.