Slavic Christians and Sex Offenders in Church
The latest sex scandal of men attempting (and succeeding to rape women) in my Slavic Christian community as well as the similar stories of so many of my clients, got me thinking, “Why and how are unapologetic, unrepentant perpetrators allowed to remain in their positions of leading the sheep, whether through worship or teaching the Word without any repercussions in the church?”
Maybe the excuse is, “We didn’t know what they did so that we won’t remove them,” but that’s often untrue.
Many survivors who come to therapy tell me that they have tried to tell pastors and their parents what happened to them but weren’t believed. Some even felt ashamed of speaking up “against someone so holy. They’d “never do anything like that,” they were told.
Thus, many survivors leave the church and, sadly, even their faith. They often blame God for allowing the pain to take place and want nothing to do with Him when they get rejected by those who claim to worship Him.
This is heartbreaking because condemning the vulnerable sheep is the very thing that Christ came to shatter. When Mary Magdeline was brought to Christ, in John 8:3-11, He didn’t invalidate, condemn, or reject her; He did the opposite.
Read the following passages to see the beautiful picture of redemption for a sinner unfold.
“And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down and, with his finger, wrote on the ground as though he heard them not.
So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And again, he stooped down and wrote on the ground. And they which heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had lifted himself and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? Hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go and sin no more.
Jesus didn’t respond to her the way that our community leaders do to survivors when they speak up about what happened to them. That’s the most heartbreaking part: victims of trauma get treated the way that a woman caught in adultery did when the offense inflicted upon them was out of their control.
My community leaders must open their eyes, ears, and hearts and stand up for survivors. Offenders must be removed (often from ministries in the spotlight) and reported to authorities so they wouldn’t inflict the same wounds on anyone else.
My sad hope is that if leaders in our community won’t speak up and take action, survivors will report these offenders to those in legal authority so they will take action.
It’s time that survivors receive healing and support in churches, and those who inflict the pain accept proper consequences.