Trigger warning: Sexual abuse of a teenager, and condoning of it
This is yet more evidence that the Christian church, at large, does not understand or care about abuse:
Christianity Today’s Leadership Journal published an article by a convicted ex- youth pastor, who sexually abused a teenager when he was in a position of trust over her. The nature of this article is not “I am a criminal, who caused this girl a lot of pain, having a long-term effect on her views on trust, relationships, sex, self-esteem, God and spirituality. I also hurt my wife, and others who trusted me.” It is: “I stumbled into an affair. We both did wrong. Now things are bad for me” – with a lot of preaching in between.
Many writers are telling them why they should take down the post, but this far, they are taking down negative comments instead. Commenters on more than one source told me, since yesterday, that they have left comments on that entry – and their comments were taken down. One say comments went from 75 to 15 in a few minutes, at another stage more than 20 comments disappeared again…
Here are some of the writers asking for it to be taken down:
You let a convicted statutory rapist tell his “side” of things in a pages-long post where the victim’s youth was relegated to a side note and the word “abuse” is never mentioned. You let him discuss it as if it were a mutual, consensual affair, as if you have forgotten the influence that a 30-something youth pastor would have over a vulnerable teenage girl. Maybe you don’t know. Maybe you don’t understand how these things work. If you don’t … if you’re really that naive, I beg you to start studying cases like this. Follow the life of a teenage girl in a scenario like this as she journeys into adulthood.
“But he says it was ‘mutual,’ ” is probably your argument. And, sure, she might have thought it was “mutual” at the time too. Do you understand that’s what happens when a man with power and control sets his eyes on someone vulnerable who is NOT his for the taking?
Do you understand that even small children who are abused often believe it’s “mutual” and believe that they share the guilt and that they “wanted it”? They believe this, because their predator skillfully convinced them that it was true.”
Samantha Field writes:
“Please e-mail the editors of the Leadership Journal and ask them to remove the post ( LJEditor@christianitytoday.com). Ask them to replace it with an article from the victim of a youth pastor, and then another from someone like Boz Tchividjian that offers church leadership an actual education in child sexual assault, clergy abuse, statutory rape, and how it is impossible for a pastor gain consent from a parishioner because of the power he or she has… If you subscribe to the Leadership Journal, please cancel your subscription and tell them why. “
Other sources to share in the outcry are:
I want to add my voice to the mix: Don’t just take down the post, Leadership Journal.
After taking it down, give it to an expert in how the mind of a sexual predator works. Then let the expert write an article for your magazine on how sexual predators excuse their actions, how they get Christians on their side, etc. As an example, the expert should be allowed to quote extensively from this article, and to mention how Christianity Today originally published this article under labels like “adultery”, not “abuse.”. That will change it from allowing an unrepentant criminal, using an underage girl he knew for years, and was in a position of trust to, to preach; to an article exposing the thinking of unrepentant sexual predators, how easy it is to be misled by them, and how to not be deceived.
Edit, added about 12 hours after publishing this article: Leadership Journal listened to our outcry – The article was just taken down, and replaced by an apology that gives at least decent information on the matter:
We should not have published this post, and we deeply regret the decision to do so.
The post, told from the perspective of a sex offender, withheld from readers until the very end a crucial piece of information: that the sexual misconduct being described involved a minor under the youth pastor’s care. [It]…used language that implied consent and mutuality … in situations of such disproportionate power …
The post …dwelt at length on the losses this criminal sin caused the author, while displaying little or no empathic engagement with the far greater losses caused to the victim of the crime and the wider community around the author….
… Any advertising revenues derived from hits to this post will be donated to Christian organizations that work with survivors of sexual abuse. We will be working to regain our readers’ trust and to give greater voice to victims of abuse.
We apologize unreservedly…