Today, I am led to write about sexual abuse. Yes, I know this is a difficult topic to discuss in all cultures, and a particularly difficult one to discuss in the black community. Especially today, we are alive during an era when much of the language around the topic is explosive and divisive. Yet this is a topic that is so delicate and personal to many of us. The Bible states in John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal, kill and to destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. God wants all of His children to experience “the fullness of life,” yet those who are sexually mishandled often pay a great price mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.
In preparation for today, I wanted to state the facts. I believe that we have become so overwhelmed with emotion because of the sensitivity of the topic. The mere mention of sexual harassment makes us all stand to attention. We need to address this topic the way that Jesus would. Many years ago, I had wrist bands that said, WWJD, or what would Jesus do. Jesus had a ministry that empowered everyone, but he had a real burden for women. He knew and understood the historical context of male dominance, and he wished to change it. For example, when the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman to Him who had been taken in the act of adultery, His response to them was, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” You see He understood that women in that day were often forced into prostitution if and when their husbands decided to leave them. That was the way that society functioned at the time. Thank God, Jesus came to break the chains of sexual abuse and discrimination.
The fact is that sexual abuse crosses gender lines, color lines, and income lines. Sexual abuse often goes unreported in families that are shielded by income or status. Nearly 14% of all reported sexually abuse victims are male, 20% of the abuse reported by males was committed by a woman. Child sexual abusers often conduct the act in silence and in isolation, therefore the acts are often undetected. I am about to make a statement that some will consider an accusation, but I am making this statement to merely challenge the current Christian culture. I have heard many sermons on the biblical stance of homosexuality, yet I have never heard a sermon about the evils of sexual abuse. Please do not be upset with me. I want to open the topic so that hearts and emotions can be healed and mended. I do not wish to beat anyone over the head. Like Jesus, I want to approach the topic with compassion for both the abused and the abusers to some extent.
Many of those who have been abused become abusers themselves. While this is not always the case, I find it so sad to think that many of these perpetrators have fallen victims to their prey in their minds. How can we stop this repetitive cycle? We need to talk about sexual assault and abuse the same way that we talk about other sin in the Bible. The devil wants to win this fight, and the only way that he can win is if we continue to hide these acts under the cloak of darkness. Pastors, if you feel uncomfortable about having these discussions, I understand, but you should have someone on your staff who can rightly divide the word of truth on these crucial topics.
Remember, the conversations are often filled with pain, embarrassment, shame, and pride. Understand that many times when one is dealing with issues stemming from sexual abuse, there is a great shame that is placed on that individual. Sometimes it comes from family members, or society in general. Many painful emotions are uncovered, and one should not enter these conversations with a closed mind, nor should anyone blame the victim.
In closing, it is important for us all to understand what God is doing with His church. He gives us all an explanation of this glorious transformation in Ephesians 5:27 “and to present her to Himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” (NIV) God is taking off the band-aid and exposing the wounds so that His glory can be revealed. No more hiding!