Even though it was over 10 years ago, I’ll never forget the night that my best friend from home called and asked if I was watching the news. I thought this was a strange question since we were living in different cities at the time. She informed me that a gentleman who was our former youth pastor, who was serving as a senior pastor of a church close to me, and who was a man we both dearly loved had been arrested for sexually abusing children. To say I was shocked was an understatement.
I think many Americans have been shocked in recent weeks as every news cycle presents reports of allegations of sexual abuse, misconduct or harrassment. The crazy part is that no part of American culture seems to be exempt: Hollywood, elected officials, journalists and business CEOs have all lost their jobs as well as their reputations in recent weeks.
Many words have been written and spoken concerning this epidemic in recent days. Here are a few of my thoughts…
1. Sexual sin is a pervasive problem. We all know that sex is everywhere. As sex has taken over our culture, secret sexual sin, including the mistreatment and assault of others, has grown rampant. For whatever reason, this is the season in which it is being exposed in high profile cases. My prayer is that God will use some of this to give courage to those who have been sinned against. I pray that just maybe these situations might open up society’s eyes to the dangers of using sex as business and entertainment.
2. The church is not immune. One night last week I stumbled upon the Twitter feed for #churchtoo. This feed was filled with heart-breaking stories of women who had been harassed, molested and even raped in church settings, many by church leaders. I wish I didn’t know people who have survived these situations, but I do. I wish I didn’t know people who had offended in this way, but I do. Many churches have failed many people in this area. For us to pretend otherwise is naive.
3. No person is immune. Each of us is one moment, one temptation, one choice away from stupid. It is easy for me to point fingers. It is easy for me to be judgmental. It is a whole lot harder for me to remember that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Scripture in 1 Peter 5:8 teaches that “the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour.” These weeks have shown that he is indiscriminate in his devouring.
In light of these realities, it is our responsibility as believers and as leaders to do what we can to protect ourselves, our families, our ministries and our church members. Sexual sin is real and it can come in a form that is destructive to others. Here are five ways you and I can seek to better protect those God has put in our care: