Apologetics Pressby Eric Lyons, M.Min.
[WARNING: The subject matter of this article may not be appropriate for children to read.]
When my mother was a child, she was manipulated and sexually abused multiple times by two different men, one whom she highly respected. Like so many children, she did not tell anyone about the incidents until several years later. She attempted to block the memories from her mind, as if they never occurred. To this day she is convinced that one reason she recalls so little about her childhood is because for years, beginning early on, she suppressed her memories.
When my first cousin was growing up, she was sexually molested numerous times. From what I understand, she was the target of a man whom she trusted from the time she was a toddler until she was a teenager. No one will ever know how deep her emotional scars were, or the extent to which her perpetratorâ€™s acts warped her mind. What I do know is that she died of an apparent suicide (drug overdose) years later.
When I was about the same age as my youngest child (7), I recall a respected leader in a local church asking me to accompany him to a small restroom in the back of the church building. I do not recall why he said he wanted me to go with him, but I did not feel any need to doubt that he had a good reason. Sadly, once in the restroom, he locked the door with a high-reaching latch, lowered his pants, and asked me if I thought there was something wrong with his private parts. I said â€œno,â€ immediately stood next to the door, and waited for him to let me out. Before leaving, he looked at me and said, â€œDonâ€™t tell anyone about this.â€
For about three years, I never said a word to anyone about this incident. I donâ€™t know why. I do not remember being scared after it happened. I do not recall continually thinking about it. I suppose I suppressed the â€œvery awkward memoryâ€ somewhat like my mother had done years earlier with her much more painful memories. One night while on vacation, during a conversation with one of my older brothers about the man in question, I mentioned the incident. My brother immediately took me to our parents. What I eventually learned was that my brother had been a target of this same homosexual pedophile on three different occasions.
Later in life, I learned that a man with whom I had worked for four years was guilty of homosexual pedophilia, or at the very least homosexual predation. From everything I know about the matter, the only reason he was not tried and convicted for his shameful, hideous actions, and the only reason that a grand jury did not bring a criminal indictment against him regarding his last known victim, was due to the fact that the manipulated victim was above â€œthe age of consentâ€ (16), as apparently were all of the other victims who were willing to tell their stories.
Recently, I learned that an old neighborhood friend, a star high-school athlete who went on to play college baseball, had returned to his hometown, met a 15-year-old boy on-line, drove 1,000 miles to the city where he lived, and sexually assaulted him. Sadly, this sexual predator, who is currently serving several years in prison, was a long-time Little League baseball coach. It is alleged that he assaulted numerous young boys in his hometown, including one of them more than 20 times.
I am not a psychologist. I am not a therapist. I am not a certified counselor. But I am a concerned Christian who has heard and seen enough to know that sexual child predators are dangerous, patient, methodical, manipulative, and can be found practically anywhereâ€”from schools to churches and from office buildings to ball fields. (The recent revelations of Jerry Sanduskyâ€™s appalling child-molesting past on a Pennsylvania college campus are just the latest reminders of a long-time, pervasive problem.) Christians must not walk in fear of evil (Psalm 23:4), but we do need to be warned of wickedness (cf. 1 Corinthians 4:14-5:13). We may not speak in specific detail about â€œthose things which are doneâ€¦in secret,â€ which are too â€œshameful even to speak of,â€ but the â€œunfruitful works of darknessâ€ (Ephesians 5:11-12), including the ever-present problem of sexual child predation, must not be ignored. â€œFor everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposedâ€ (John 3:20).
Recently, I received an 11-page, single-spaced letter from a penitent child molester who has been in prison for the past 10 years. Prompted by an article he read from Apologetics Press on the subject of â€œHomosexuality and Public Educationâ€ (see Lyons, 2011), the prisoner (whom Iâ€™ll simply refer to as John) began his letter by referring to the â€œdanger inherent in promoting homosexuality (the pro-homosexual agenda) to impressionable children.â€ He wrote:
When the public school system pushes a pro-homosexual agenda on to young children and says itâ€™s okay for two men or two women to fall in love and live just like a married man and woman, theyâ€™re unwittingly helping the pederast with the grooming process. Theyâ€™re not making children any safer. Theyâ€™re putting at least the boys at a greater risk. Why? Because school teachersâ€”the most influential people in most childrenâ€™s livesâ€”are telling them that being â€œgayâ€ isnâ€™t anything bad. A pederast who lives in an area where a pro-homosexuality agenda is promoted in the public school systems will know this is being taught and will not hesitate in the least to use this to groom and manipulate the boy he wants to molest into a sexual encounter. Itâ€™s a foundation (the pro-homosexual agenda) the pederast can and will build upon (emp. added).
After this penitent pederast briefly raised this genuine and troublesome concern about the homosexual agenda targeting public schools, he then stated his main reason for penning the letter: â€œIt is my intent to take my past experiences and use that to better equip parents to better protect their young sonsâ€¦. I invite and encourage you to share this information with othersâ€¦. I can never really make up for what I did, but I can be part of the solution rather than the problem.â€ Although much of what John wrote was more graphic than I feel comfortable sharing in this article, I believe that the following information that he penned may very well â€œbetter equip parents to better protect their sonsâ€ and daughters.
According to Johnâ€¦
â€¢â€œMore times than not, the abuser will be someone the child likes (loves) and looks up to. I [John] operated by simultaneously befriending and earning the trust of the parents and the affection, friendship, and loyalty of the little boy I wanted to molest. Tragically, too many parents have a â€˜perimeter defense,â€™ but not a â€˜close proximity defense.â€™ In reference to the boy Iâ€™m in prison over, I was able to molest him on numerous occasions with his parents in the other room; just seconds away. On other occasions his parents were outside and my victim and I were alone in the houseâ€ (emp. in orig.). â€¢â€œThe goal of grooming (methodically setting up) a young boy for a sexual encounter is to desensitize him to and normalize this type of sexual behavior.â€ The predator will likely try to â€œdesensitize the boy to the sexual act by couching it in words and in an atmosphere of love and affection.â€ â€¢Sexual child abusers will â€œgo out of their way to be patient, gentle, kind, and totally non-threatening so that the child will really like him and not feel the least bit threatened in any way by himâ€¦. This is another component of that manipulative, coldly calculated process.â€ â€¢â€œThere are what you think to be â€˜harmlessâ€™ expressions of affection. What you donâ€™t realize is that the would-be molester [enjoys] holding a little boy, just to touch his bodyâ€”his skin. Thatâ€™s why I [John] enjoyed â€˜wrestlingâ€™ gently with and tickling (ribs, armpits, just above knee-cap, and bottoms of feet) the little boy I molested. This desensitizes the child to the abuserâ€™s touch. Regular, intimate physical contact is normalized by these â€˜harmlessâ€™ incidents.â€ That â€œsets the stageâ€ for (1) references to private parts in humorous contexts, and (2) â€œaccidentalâ€ touching of private parts, which often leads to all-out abusive behavior that the perpetrator will couch as much as possible as â€œinnocent enjoyment.â€ â€¢â€œThe abuserâ€¦will try to create as many opportunities to be around him (them) as is possible without arousing parental suspicion. This can be a red flag to look for. Is a man/older teen a bit too eager to spend unsupervised time with your son? Is the boy too eager to spend unsupervised time with this man/older teen? Is the older person trying too hard to have occasion to â€˜baby sitâ€™ or have the boy over for a â€œboysâ€™ night out sleep-overâ€? If so, one would need to seriously ask himself/herself, â€˜Why does this man or teenager want to spend so much alone time with my son? Why isnâ€™t he more interested in peer-appropriate relationships?â€™â€ [NOTE: â€œYou donâ€™t need to be paranoid about everyone who pays attention to your children and plays with them some. I [John] am referring to those whose interactions with children outweigh their peer interactions. This would have to be observed over a period of time.â€] As John began to conclude these thoughts, he wrote that, if your child has been sexually abused, â€œthe most important priority is to learn the identity of the abuser so that you can protect your son from further molestation and bring criminal charges against the offender, who will not stop until caughtâ€ (emp. in orig.). As a former child molester, John wants parents to know that sexual predators â€œwill not stop until caught.â€ As difficult as it might be, one of the greatest things a person may ever do (1) for a sexual predator and (2) for the children of a given community, is turn the child molester in. Before getting caught, John was living a lie. He was â€œin church every time the doors opened.â€ He went to worship on Sunday mornings and abused his victim on Sunday nights. It was only after getting caught, and after several years in prison that John â€œobeyed the Gospel from the heartâ€ (emp. in orig.). He says that he is â€œstriving daily to be a faithful, sincere New Testament Christianâ€ (emp. in orig.) and asked for prayers for himself, for the boy he molested more than 10 years ago, for the boyâ€™s family, and for his [Johnâ€™s] own parents, who were â€œnearly destroyedâ€¦emotionallyâ€ upon learning that their son was a child molester.
This world is full of heartache. Sin is all around (especially sexual sinsâ€”see Miller, 2006). Satan is alive and well (1 Peter 5:8). But thank God for the Gospel of Christ, which has the power to change lives (Romans 1:16; Hebrews 4:12). It can turn a murderer like Paul into a preacher. It can comfort the family who has been invaded by a sexual predator. It can lead homosexuals to repent and become sincere Christians (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). It can work on the heart of a child molester, and change him into a man who no longer hides his sinful predatory actions, but reaches out for help, hoping to â€œbe part of the solution rather than the problem.â€
May God help us all to be a part of the solution. We need not be suspicious of every person who hugs our child or buys our kid an ice cream cone. We must not â€œaccuse anyone falselyâ€ (Luke 3:14, NASB). We must not leave love behind, but rather remember that love â€œis ever ready to believe the best of every personâ€ (1 Corinthians 13:7; Clarke, 1996). At the same time, Christians must be alert and watchful (1 Thessalonians 5:6). We must take great care of the children whom God has given us, who are â€œlike arrows in the hand of a warriorâ€ (Psalm 127:3-3). And, we should be wise enough not to stick our heads in the sand, but learn from those (like John) who are willing to help shed light on the dangerous, dark world of sexual child predators.
â€œWatch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. Let all that you do be done with loveâ€ (1 Corinthians 16:13-14).
REFERENCES Clarke, Adam (1996), Adam Clarkeâ€™s Commentary (Electronic Database: Biblesoft).
Lyons, Eric (2011), â€œHomosexuality and Public Education,â€ Reason & Revelation, 31:110-119, December, http://www.apologeticspress.org/apPubPage.aspx?pub=1&issue=1007&article=1698.
Miller, Dave (2006), Sexual Anarchy (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press). http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=7&article=2269