Ep. 370 A Practical Response to Sexual Abuse in the Church

Ep. 370 A Practical Response to Sexual Abuse in the Church

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Shows Main Idea – Sexual abuse is one of the worst things that could happen to anyone. It’s worse when it occurs in the church because of the assumed protection and safety among God’s people. You want to respond appropriately to the abused, abuser, and the local body when it does happen. Here are a few practical considerations.

Life Over Coffee · Ep. 370 A Practical Response to Sexual Abuse In the Church

Show Notes

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This list is not exhaustive or in order of priority. I have many embedded links in these Show Notes. Please take advantage of them. Also, talk to us on our forums if you have more questions; you’ll find the links at the bottom. (Go to our Topical Index to find articles on abuse, victim, and sexuality.)

  1. Influences: How do your experiences shape your response to what happened? E.g., are you tempted to ignore or overreact? You want objective and courageous leading providing oversight and direction when sexual abuse happens.
  2. Framing: When abuse happens, I frame my thoughts around how I would respond and expect others to react if it were one of our daughters. 
  3. Meaning: What does sexual abuse mean? What did the person do? Be precise, exact, and objective.
  4. Investigate: How do you know it happened? Hearsay? First-hand knowledge? 
  5. Ages: How old were the victims? Sexual abuse is not “just a sin,” but it’s a crime too. If it’s a crime, you have to contact the police. 
  6. Protection: The perpetrator should not attend the church where the victims are. Perhaps online services, plus multiple connect points for ongoing care and accountability. Contact an attorney or local advocacy group to gain their perspective and experience on caring for the victims, protecting the church, and helping the abuser. (Stay off FB Groups and other social platforms where victims gather.)
  7. Accountability: What are the accountability measures to bring the person to repentance? Church discipline? Prosecution? Intrusiveness into his life, devices, friends, and family? How will you incorporate the body to care for the abuser? Is he on a sexual predator website? What will be your investigatory measures?
  8. Repentance: There is a difference between repenting of an event and repenting of a lifestyle. You have to recognize this event has a history and other sins, e.g., life of porn and deception
  9. Shepherding: You must have a family meeting with the church, informing them of what happened and the steps to keep this from happening again. Do not share the names of the victim. The leaders must be courageous.
  10. Conflation: Do not conflate grace and compassion with a lack of comprehensive investigation and accountability. Shepherds can succumb to the temptation to hide what happened, not equip the church, not protect the victims, and not do all they can do to bring the culprit to repentance.

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