Causes, Consequences & Cures
(Transcribed from a public message given in northern California by Robert Grove in the Fall of 1998.)
This message has been transcribed and edited with the prayer that the reader will gain a more complete picture of some of what is involved when one has been sexually abused or molested as a child. It is our prayer that by putting this message in print it can provide comfort and direction to many who need the comfort and direction that comes from God’s word the Bible. Also, I our prayer is that parents may be wiser in bringing up their children to anticipate and protect them from the actions of people who are driven by their own selfish desires.
I probably have spent more time in the last year or two working with adults who were molested as children than any other time in my life. I spoke on this subject a number of years ago in Virginia for the first time and was surprised at the response. A number of people stood and publicly stated that they understood (because they had experienced or were experiencing) what I described in this meeting. They stated clearly, in some cases very emotionally that the things that I had said were true. They appreciated what I gave from God’s word regarding responsibility and accountability because, as I will develop, people that have been molested as children generally have a very distorted view of themselves. And, they have a very distorted view of their relationship with God, their value before God, and they find it very difficult to function comfortably in intimate relationships primarily in marriage.
Part of the reason for going over this is that I think it is really critical that we as parents recognize the fact that there is always the possibility that our child will be at risk. You might be surprised at some of the people and the relationships that children have had with some of the people that have sexually molested them in the course of a lifetime. And so I think that all of us as parents need to wake up and realize that it’s our responsibility to see to it, at least do what we can to see to it, that this doesn’t happen to our children.
I think we need to be aware of some of the consequences, the results of having been molested— because a person who has been molested, be they male or female, will live with it (to some degree) the rest of their life. They certainly can have victory in their life. They can overcome some of the effects and they may at times give up, some of the feelings that they have about themselves and the concept that they have of God and their relationship with God that are rooted in that experience. They can certainly change, improve, and develop in their understanding in these areas. Some people do better than others at coming to the place where they can trust and rest in authority figures in their life, but almost all of them will to some degree always struggle with authority figures in their lives. If nothing else, they will have flashbacks at times when they will struggle with it.
I want to go over this subject because there may be those here who are struggling. Maybe you’re struggling and have never told anybody. You’ve never talked about it (and I’ll expand on that a little as we go on). I hope that I can be of some encouragement and comfort to you. If you’re one who is a husband or wife to one who was molested as a child, then I hope to expand your understanding of reasons why your spouse reacts or acts the way they do at times. Sometimes if a person doesn’t realize that a spouse has or may have been molested, or they don’t understand the consequences of that happening in their life, they are really perplexed at the why the way their spouse reacts in some situations. To begin with, I would like to look quickly at four passages of scripture.
I Timothy 3:2 A Bishop then, must be blame less, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach.
1 Peter 5:8 Be sober, be vigilant, for your adversary, the devil as a roaring lion, goes about seeking whom he may devour.
I believe that it’s really important, again as I said earlier we as parents are awake, that we understand. Every now and then I am a little shocked when I realize that there are people who somehow think that because they are married to, or their children are, or we function together primarily as Christians, that therefore things that are common to other people—negative things, bad things, sin—somehow it’s not going to happen among us. That’s not true. If you think that because you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior, that somehow you (your family or friends) are beyond being tempted by the things that are categorized as “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life,”— that’s not so. Every one of us here has the potential of doing the worst thing that any human being on the face of the earth has the potential of doing. And that’s why we’re told not to make “provision for the flesh to fulfill the lust thereof”. And that’s why we exhort people not to take on the attitudes, and the activities, that the world finds almost necessary for them to survive the kind of life that they have, because it’s not really life, it’s a way of death.
In Ephesians 6:4 and Colossians 3:21, fathers are told to “bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” All things being equal, it is the responsibility of the father to be vigilant in taking care and providing for his children. If you don’t have a husband and you are raising children by yourself, which is often the case today, then obviously you’re going to have to step into that gap and try be vigilant.
The magnitude of the problem of molestation of children and adults molested as children, is unknown. The last statistics that I have, and they’re old statistics, are that 20% of women, and an unknown percentage of men (because very little tracking is done of boys) have been molested. This represents a tremendous amount of heartache and pain.
I think that most people assume that that’s something that only men do to girls and boys, and that women don’t commit this type of sin or crime, but it’s not true. I think our society is increasingly aware of the fact that mothers sometimes sexually molest children, fathers molest children, and sisters sometimes molest younger brothers or sisters, as well as older brothers molesting younger sisters and brothers.
The mental and emotional pain and trauma of the experience of being molested (We could use “abused” or we could use “molested”, sometimes it’s physical abuse, some times it’s only sexual which we generally consider “molestation” and sometimes it’s both— If it’s both its worse. The longer it continues the worse the effects are. The more involved it is the worse.) This sin does a tremendous amount of damage, and causes a tremendous amount of pain in the life of a person who is a victim, and it doesn’t stop just because they grow up.
There are cures. I believe that the cures that are really cures are found in God’s word, the Bible, and in the personal commitment to accept and believe what God says about them, what God says about Himself, and what God says about the sexual abuse with which they struggle. This struggle often encroaches on the relationship between husband and wife and often between parents and children. In a high percentage of marriages where counsel is needed, where problems rise to the level where someone else is brought in to try to be of help— in a high percentage of those marriages, one or both of the spouses have been molested as children.
Let me give a definition of a sexually molested person that is probably a little different. I don’t know if it would match the legal definition. As I’m using the phrase “molested person,” it’s anyone under the age of 18 who is convinced that they should participate in (they are talked into it) or are forced to give or receive sexual pleasure to or, from another who is approximately 3 or more years older than they are. When I use the term “molested” I am referring to “sexual molestation”. The greater the age difference, the more responsible the predator is and the more damage it does to the victim (the sexually molested person). The more important the predator is in the mind of the victim, the greater damage it does. Obviously, a person that is important, say to a little girl could be an older brother, a cousin, a father, an uncle, a grandfather, or a close friend of the family. Sometimes it could be a schoolteacher or someone in the medical field (a nurse or doctor), a police officer, a judge, in other words someone that they should trust, or someone to whom they should submit. Anyone that a child would normally trust can be a person that could molest them. Please don’t think that it couldn’t happen in your family, because it can.
What are the causes? Why does the predator do it, and why does the victim allow it? In some cases adults have said that they are sure their daughter or son would tell them. Please don’t count on it because children almost never tell—until years later. It’s the kind of thing that if it happens to a child, because of what it does to them emotionally and physically they become “locked in” so they don’t tell. In some cases the person that’s doing the damage, the predator, tells them “don’t tell“. In some cases there are threats made about what will happen if they do tell, and sometimes if children do tell they are not believed.
There are several things that contribute to a child being molested. I think number one, is a father and a mother who do not get along. “Godliness is profitable”, so in a husband and wife relationship it’s profitable for everyone in the family if you, as a husband and as a wife, get along, because if you don’t, you’re going to create a child that is insecure. And generally, because you’re caught up in your own problems you’re not going to give the attention that your children need at a given time. That can produce a victim —or— a predator. A family that goes one step further and becomes a broken home, not only do you not get along but you’ve split, you’ve gone in opposite directions, will often result in producing children that are insecure, because they lack attention affection, direction, approval, and discipline in the appropriate amounts. Also, they often feel responsible for the breakdown in the marriage even though thou they in no way are responsible.
Often times if the father is too involved outside of the home and is disconnected from what is going on in the family circle, he is not giving the attention, the direction, and the affection that every child needs to grow up with a wholesome concept of themselves and with the kind of relationships that they should have with other people, there will be problems. Maybe the father is involved outside of the home because of his hobbies, or his work, or maybe he’s in Christian assembly activities. He might be doing good things but he’s doing too many of those good things and he’s creating a deprivation and a lack in the home environment of his time, attention, affection and direction. This can contribute to a child being molested.
The same thing can happen with a mother. If the mother is too involved outside the home she could be involved in a number of things. She could be involved in hobbies, maybe she is into fitness, maybe she is working, and maybe she just spends her time driving around the country looking at the scenery. It could be any number of things. There are also cases where wives have been outside the home carrying on an affair. It leaves the children unprotected. They are not receiving the direction, attention and affection that they should be receiving from their mother. This two can contribute to tragic results in a family. Contrary to what is politically correct today the bible says that a wife and mother is to be a keeper at home, not trying to climb the corporate ladder. The apostle Paul tells us:
1 Timothy 5:14 Therefore I desire that the younger widows marry, bear children, manage the house, give no opportunity to the adversary to speak reproachfully.
Titus 2:4-5 that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed. (See: Proverbs 31:10-31, 2Timothy 1:5 with 2Timothy 3:14-15)
I do realize that in many situations a wife and mother must work outside the home to either help her husband, or a sole provider provide food, clothing and shelter for the family. In those cases a mother will need to do what is necessary. However, I also realize that in many, many cases it is not necessary that there be two wage earners if the family would pare their lifestyle down to what one can earn. There can be many positive benefits in doing this and much pain and heartache avoided. The biggest loss in those cases are in the toys and higher lifestyle and when there is heartache and pain in the family most parents would trade in a heartbeat and give up the toys to avoid the pain—but after the heartache comes it is too late.
Another thing that can happen that creates the same thing is a mother or a father that are completely focused on themselves and their own problems. The interesting thing about this situation is that sometimes in working with people where that is the case, I find that they were sexually molested or abused as children themselves. So they are struggling with this thing in their own mind and it’s consuming them. The net result is that they are sapping all of the energy out of the family and soaking it up themselves. The children are kind of spinning around in their own environment and the father and mother are sucking all of the attention and energy from the family to themselves. The children, again, feel insecure, sometimes they feel responsible, sometimes they feel unaccepted, and they certainly are not getting the love, the affection, and the direction that they should be getting as they grow up and develop. Because they lack an adequate amount of these three: love, affection, and direction, they may become vulnerable to the approach of a sexual molester.
Sometimes this is the product of past emotional problems caused by such things as the parent having been sexually molested, physically abused, or injured in an accident, or something of that nature. Sometimes a father or mother struggles with an ongoing chronic physical problem and they just suck all the attention to themselves. Financial problems also sometimes create this condition in the home.
Competition within the home is another thing that often contributes to either being a predator or being a victim. Favoritism or adversely comparing siblings can contribute to the problem. Outsiders being brought into the home and displacing birth children, when the parents are trying to reach out and help can cause the problem. Competition between parents can create a problem environment. In other words, anything that creates an insecure environment within the home where the child is being raised can contribute to them being either a predator or a victim of child molestation.
The best gift that a father can give his children is to love their mother. The best gift a mother can give her children is to love their father. The best gift that parents can give to their children is to walk in God’s order, relevant to their relationship with each other and their relationship with the world outside.
Another cause for these problems is a lack of supervision. Again, I have heard and I know that there are some parents that think that these kinds of things don’t happen in Christian homes or they don’t happen in Christian assemblies. I have heard people say “it’s certainly nice to be in a Christian assembly where we can just let our children run and have fun and know that there are not going to be any problems.” That’s not true. It’s foolish to think that Christian young people wouldn’t do this kind of thing. It’s foolish to think that if it happens, your children will talk to you. They probably will not. It’s foolish to think that these kinds of things don’t happen between relatives …siblings, aunts and uncles, grandparents, fathers and mothers toward children, etc. The molester is generally a relative or someone the victim should be able to trust.
A major cause on the part of the predator is a need within that person, a need for attention, approval and appreciation. Generally speaking, most people that become predators find it difficult to relate to people of a comparable age, not always, but most generally. Within the predator could be bitterness, anger resentment, an inability to deal with his own sexuality, a general lack of confidence in his ability to relate with people of a comparable age, so he takes advantage of someone that is younger. Almost always it comes out of a family environment that is not what it should be. If you look at what is happening in the world in which we live that is surely true. Also, if you look at our world’s lack of appreciation and obedience to God’s moral laws, it shouldn’t come as a surprise.
If you look into the background of those who have struggled with their sexual orientation often, you will find that they came from a family environment that is not what God said a family should be. A father who accurately reflects the character of God, loving, kind and just in his direction of the family and a mother who is loving and submissive to her husband as she is what the bible describes as a “keeper of home”. Often you will find that they became victims of some form of abuse or lack of acceptance at a very young age.
So we come back to the fact that Godliness is profitable unto all things, having the promise not only of the life that now is, but of that which is to come (1Timothy 4:8). Each of us is to be sober, and to be vigilant. We’re to look around and observe how things are going in our family, and as parents with our children, we’re to look for indicators that things are going well or that they are not.
Fathers are to bring up their children and are not to provoke them to anger. Often times, children brought up in an environment where the father is not sexually abusive but if he is angry and/or verbally abusive, that will contribute to similar problems. Maybe he is short tempered and that will contribute to feelings of insecurity and a lack of acceptance. This sets the child up to be vulnerable to the approaches of a molester or to become a molester as they begin to mature. Fathers are told,
Ephesians 6:4 And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.
Colossians 3:21, Do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.
Children can come to the place where they can’t deal with the discouragement and insecurity of life in an appropriate way. Life is more than they can handle because they don’t experience the love, the acceptance, the appreciation, the security, God intended they receive from their parents. Because of this lack they are unable to develop and mature emotionally, physically and sexually as they should.
As a substitute for love, acceptance, appreciation, and security a child may submit themselves to the attention of a molester and become a victim. On the other hand, they may force their attention on a younger or smaller person and become a molester. If they become victims of molestation, they are not allowed to be free from being introduced to sexual stimulation at too young an age and they may struggle with it for the rest of their lives. On the other hand if they become a predator, they will struggle with the guilt of their actions for the rest of their life, unless, they accept God’s forgiveness. That brings me back to consequences.
Abused children will often withdraw into themselves, sometimes it can be detected, and sometimes it can’t be detected very easily. They are introduced as a child to sexual feelings and sexual stimulation that they shouldn’t have to deal with at that age. They feel guilty, dirty, responsible, and ashamed. (In order for the child to really ashamed or guilty before God or if the person is actually “dirty” in God’s eyes they have to have had some way that they understood, to stop the process. They had to have both the ability and the knowledge to stop what was being done to them, or they are not accountable before God!) The child will generally draw into himself. They want to hide and sometimes you will observe this. Maybe children who are outgoing and open then all of a sudden they become very reserved. If this happens, it is a good idea to try to figure out what is going on. The child may withdraw from his or her peers, or on the other hand, they may become aggressive, or angry. They may begin to act out because they are struggling with what is going on inside of them. Sometimes they begin to flaunt their sexuality. They may feel shame and withdraw, and at the same time feel like everyone knows their terrible secrete. They say to themselves whenever someone looks at them, ”They know what I am doing or what I’ve done.” Again, whether its guilt, anger or shame, experience they may feel everyone knows.
Other children may realize that nobody knows but they feel that if others did know, “They wouldn’t have anything to do with me.” So they may feel that they are caught in this position where they feel everyone knows, so whenever anyone looks at them, they feel dirt because of all of the things that they accept responsibility for— or they think that nobody knows, but they dare not tell anyone, because if anyone did know, then that would be the end for them as no one would want to be around them. When the child grows up and becomes an adult, there are several feelings that these experiences in their life will tend to create.
Many find it difficult, if not impossible to trust God. In addition, if they come from a religious home where accepting Jesus Christ as savior is believed to result in salvation (which it does), they may struggle with, “Am I really saved? Did I really accept the Lord as my Savior? Was I really honest with God when I did ask him to save me? Did He really accept me?” Some have asked the Lord over and over again to save them. But they can’t seem to trust Him because they don’t trust anyone (or at least any authority figure) and so they struggle with their acceptance by God.
They don’t trust God so consistently, when they marry they don’t trust their husband, or if it’s a man, he has difficulty trusting his wife. They may not trust authority figures at any level, whether it’s in the church or in the government.
And again, I’m not saying—nor am I suggesting that everyone experiences all of this, or to the same degree. The ripples go on and on and not only does it affect them but it can affect the next generation. This often affects the next generation because it is detrimental to the relationship between husband and wife and it can keep on going from generation to generation. Some feel they are no good and that they can’t do anything right. And sometimes, particularly with women they can’t get anything clean enough. They become obsessed with everything being orderly and in its right place, clean, polished, and “spic and span” and they can’t get it clean enough. Other people may go the other way feeling and thinking, “I’m bad, and it’s dirty and it doesn’t make any difference, because I’m no good anyway.” Frequently, they don’t feel like they can do anything right. Some live in fear that others will find out. I know of people that have been told by parents as well as by the perpetrator, “Don’t ever tell. If you ever tell people will never accept you, people won’t believe you, people won’t accept you, people won’t forgive you, no one will ever have anything to do with you if you ever tell.” In most all cases this is not true—this is not the way most thinking people react. Again, here is a child growing up, maturing, and they are struggling with all of this.
If it’s been real severe, maybe a combination of molestation and physical abuse at the same time, they may not recall a lot of things that happened to them. The mind has the ability to as it were, draw a curtain across certain events and the victim doesn’t recall them. Some people lose touch with reality. They live in a fantasy world, everything is not very real, and they are not dealing with life as it is. Some people stop communicating, other people stop communicating intelligently. Often they become withdrawn, even from very close friends.
Sometimes if a person hasn’t had recall and all of a sudden recall comes, they begin to draw away from you. I would hope that every husband and every wife could have the ability to openly talk with each other about terrible things that happened early in their life. I believe it’s healthy. I believe it’s in the best interest of both and of their relationship. (This is assuming both can be open and accepting of each other regardless of what their early life’s experiences are.) It helps the husband have better understanding, if it’s the wife, of why his wife reacts the way she does in certain situations. The same goes for the wife if the roles are reversed.
Often times when people have sexual dysfunction of one kind or another, it’s rooted in some form of sexual molestation or abuse. Certainly if a husband doesn’t know it, or the wife doesn’t realize it, then they are not going to be able to work with it or deal with it with any real significant degree of empathy.
As a child, the victim often because they are afraid, because of the way it makes them feel dirty, ashamed, guilty and responsible, they often won’t tell. So when they become an adult, they begin to feel like a hypocrite. Sometimes they begin to doubt their sincerity with God. We get back to the question, am I really saved? If you believe there is a heaven and you believe there is a hell, and if you believe that if you didn’t ask Jesus Christ to come into your heart with sincerity and truth, then perhaps you haven’t accepted Christ as your personal Savior and He hasn’t accepted you, then you’re going to die and go to hell and yet you’re not sure whether you were sincere or not. Some begin to doubt their sanity, and sometimes they begin to act as if they are not sane, because their thoughts are so confused and irrationally.
Almost always a victim will have difficulty moving very close in any kind of an intimate relationship. Until they come to the place where they will open up and share what happened and allow God to help them reevaluate what happened, then they won’t be able to come very close because they don’t want anyone to know what they (in their mind) really are. They often play on the idea that if they weren’t as terrible as they feel they are, they would have done something to get the molestation stopped because they think they could have done something. Generally they are viewing their conduct as a child through the eyes of an adult with all the options adults see. They do not take into consideration how few options are in the mind of a child.
As an adult, they look back on their childhood and see a lot of things that happened to them. Probably there were a lot of things they felt (as a child) they were forced to do that they really didn’t want to do. As an adult they feel they could have stopped what was going on by telling somebody, but they didn’t. And so as an adult, they have very little sympathy for the child that was in a bad situation. Here’s something that compounds it.
The fact that a person is engaged in and is introduced to sexual stimulation that they shouldn’t have been engaged in and introduced to at the age level that they were and if they enjoyed it, the pleasure compounds the problem in their mind. They think that if they weren’t bad, then they wouldn’t have enjoyed it. Possibly they enjoyed it and they even went back for more—in their mind this makes them even worse. Maybe it was an uncle or someone that held them on their lap or cuddled them and stimulated them sexually while they held them and it was pleasurable, so they went back for more. I have had people tell me that it wasn’t abuse or molestation because they went back and they didn’t have to. Their perspective is not accurate but it is their perspective as an adult not as there perspective was as a child. When an older, responsible, knowledgeable person introduces something to a child that they don’t understand and they happen to enjoy it, then the older person, the adult, is the responsible person. That can easily be the case particularly if the overall home environment is uncomfortable.
There is a principle stated by the apostle Paul that every adult who was molested as a child needs to believe. This principle makes it clear in any situation where an adult takes advantage of a child—it is the adult that is responsible before God.
1 Corinthians 13:11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
It is common for it to be difficult as an adult to have empathy and compassion for the child you once were because as an adult we think differently. As an adult, we see many options that seem so simple to implement and judge ourselves as children through adult eyes. We need to see the child we were through the eyes of God. A child can only speak, understand, and think as a child. If you were a victim you need have compassion on the child you were.
Back to what I was saying about causes, if the overall environment is uncomfortable, then the child is probably more likely to go back to the person that brings some degree of pleasure into their life. If they have had this kind of sexual attention as a child and enjoyed, or wanted it then as an adult, they will almost always insist that they were bad because they enjoyed something that for a knowledgeable adult would have been sin. Because they received sexual pleasure at an early age, they may even have fantasized a lot about the sexual pleasures and the sexual encounters. They probably engaged in a significant amount of self-stimulation and they may consider that to be a terrible sin, even though it really isn’t. They may have been introduced to a lot of visual stimulation. There have been situations where individuals were introduced to pornography through magazines, books, videos, or movies at a very tender age.
Many times, parents, in order to protect themselves, or to protect the perpetrator, have told children that they (the children) were “asking for it.” In some cases, the perpetrator will deny the fact that it was really molestation. Even worse, in some cases, they will deny the fact that it even happened, telling the victim that they are just imagining things, making up things, or trying to get attention. Often times the molester will try to convince the child that they wanted it, they asked for it, and they enjoyed it, therefore it is the child’s fault. So as time goes on, the victim may become increasingly convinced of the fact that they are vile, wicked, dirty, unlovable, and shameful. They think they are a hypocrite, they don’t trust anyone, they are afraid to get close to people because people will find out and they are sure that if people found out, they would have nothing to do with them.
Or to take a different approach to it, they were used, they were abused, they were taken advantage of, and therefore no one is ever going to take advantage of them again. And so you end up with the same result, they are not getting close to anyone either. Either way, it becomes virtually impossible for them to rest in God’s love and their relationship with him. For the wife, it could become virtually impossible for her to have trust in her husband as well as trust in God. For a man, he may build up a tremendous amount of disrespect for women, and again, an inability to rest in God’s love, an inability to trust authority figures, and an inability to trust his wife. So when they become adults having been sexually mistreated or physically or verbally abused as children, often they are depressed, they have marital problems, and they have mental problems. Another sad fact is that often, the molested child becomes a molesting adult and the process repeats itself. It’s a bad situation. It’s a “lose—lose” situation.
The solution comes in helping a person accept the fact that there must be authority, or capacity and responsibility in order for there to be accountability. Almost everyone that I have talked to who is really struggling with this has a flaw in their concept of those three things: authority, responsibility, and accountability. They fail to realize that as a child they did not have authority or capacity. Not having authority and capacity they didn’t and don’t have responsibility for what happened to them. Not being responsible they are not going to be held accountable by God. God doesn’t hold them accountable, God doesn’t view them as being accountable and any right thinking adult wouldn’t either.
But, if you’re an adult who has been molested as a child and you’re thinking about the child that you were, I will almost guarantee you that you will tend to blame yourself for what took place. You will tend to feel responsible in some way for what took place. If you received any pleasure from it, you are sure that the fact that you received pleasure from the stimulation proves the fact that you are a bad person because you think you wouldn’t have received pleasure doing such a terrible thing unless you were a bad person. It is vitally important to realize that in order to be responsible for something, the person must have the capacity, and the authority to control the situation. It is interesting that most adults I have worked with would not hold a small child (say granddaughter or grandson) accountable if it were happening to the child. At times I have felt they were helped to realize they were holding themselves as a child to a tighter standard than they would to other children.
It is not necessary to physically force someone— force someone to be in control of the situation. We tell our children not to accept candy from strangers because most parents are concerned that if a stranger comes up to a child and is friendly and nice and maybe offers the child a piece of candy or a ride to or from school, the child may never be seen again. We realize that the stranger is using something that tastes good, something that is pleasurable, something that is usually received from someone who has your best interest at heart and they are using that to entice the child into a situation where they can take advantage of them. They are not, at least initially using force, but rather enticement. So just because the person is enticed, rather than forced, doesn’t mean that the victim had control, capacity, or the authority to deal with the situation. If they had capacity, they would have demonstrated that by saying that they didn’t want the candy, and running away. Then they wouldn’t have had a problem. Once they accepted the candy (whatever “candy” represents) there is a good chance they will come under the control of the perpetrator. So there are things that we can teach our children, encouragement we can give them, to help them prevent the problem before it happens, and that gives them some capacity.
One of the aspects of capacity is knowledge, and if a child has knowledge, then that gives them a degree of capacity. Those who have authority, or capacity, and therefore, responsibility are going to be held accountable by God. There is a passage of scripture that to me, if I were an adult who had been involved in physically, verbally, or sexually molesting a child, would scare the daylights out of me. It is in Matthew 18:6; But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
Often times those who are victims become prostitutes, they may struggle with their sexual orientation or engage in sexual lifestyles that the bible describes as sin. But in many cases, those who are there are there primarily because some older person took advantage of them in some very, very, vile way as either children or young adults. One of the things I used to do when I worked in a California prison as a Correctional Officer was to ask the homosexual men that I had an opportunity to talk with, how they got started in that lifestyle. At that time, if I remember correctly, all but one of the men that I spoke with who came into prison living that lifestyle said that someone introduced them to that type of conduct when they were a young person, and that experience started them down that road. Others didn’t participate in that lifestyle until they made the choices that caused them to be in prison.
Again, one thing that is hardest to deal with in an adult is that adults who were molested as children tend to see themselves as having been responsible, but they were not and are not responsible. Often the molester tries to make them feel responsible, but they’re not. There is no way that that could be. Often the molester tries to make them feel that they asked for it, therefore, they are responsible, and that can’t be.
Let me share some scripture references that support the concept of authority, responsibility, and accountability that I have been talking about.
The following references support the fact that parents have authority and we teach children that adults should be obeyed:
Ephesians 6:1 & 2 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 Honor your father and mother, which is the first commandment with promise:
Colossians 3:20 Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord.
Leviticus 19:32 You shall rise before the gray headed and honor the presence of an old man, and fear your God: I am the LORD.
Proverbs 16:31 The silver-haired head is a crown of glory, If it is found in the way of righteousness.
The following passages indicate the one with authority is held accountable:
Deuteronomy 22:26 “But you shall do nothing to the young woman; there is in the young woman no sin deserving of death, for just as when a man rises against his neighbor and kills him, even so is this matter. (It is assumed context that the woman was raped; only the man is killed, under the Mosaic Law.)
Matthew 18:6 But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea. (The responsibility for causing the little one to sin is placed on the adults, it would have been better if they had drowned in the sea.)
James 3:1 My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment. (Teachers will receive the greater judgment— they have greater knowledge, authority and with it accountability.)
The fallowing passages represent the fact that accountability comes with knowledge:
James 4:17 Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin. (A child may feel uncomfortable by what is going on when molested. However, they only have the limited understanding and the limited options of children.)
Genesis 3:3 but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die. (Eve and Adam had knowledge-therefore responsibility, authority and accountability. They sinned and all of their children down today have been affected by the consequences.)
Leviticus 5:17 If a person sins, and commits any of these things which are forbidden to be done by the commandments of the LORD, though he does not know it, yet he is guilty and shall bear his iniquity. (Under the Mosaic Law, there were sacrifices prescribed for sins of ignorance. Those sacrifices were typical of the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ-which-for those who accept him as their Lord and Savior paid the price for the sins of our youth, if in fact they are sins in God’s sight.)
The fact is that the Bible makes it clear that children are very limited in knowledge and therefore very limited accountability. It is important to remember whether evaluating ourselves as a child or evaluating our children:
1. Look in the maternity ward of the hospital most all the babies look basically the same. In God’s sight THEY ARE of the same value, but do not necessarily have the same ability.
2. Spiritually they remain the same (needing a Savior) until they are saved.
3. After salvation, naturally, physically, sexually, emotionally, they are still the same as any other child. They still have what the bible calls an “old nature”.
4. Even after salvation, they must be “socialized”— taught manners, taught morals as every child must, or they are not nice to be around.
There are scriptures that establish the fact that children have limited knowledge:
Luke 2:42-48 And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast …..48 So when they saw Him, they were amazed; and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You done this to us? Look, Your father and I have sought You anxiously. (They were amazed because the ability of Jesus was completely beyond the ability of a 12 year old boy.)
Deuteronomy 1:39 Moreover your little ones and your children, who you say will be victims, who today have no knowledge of good and evil, they shall go in there; to them I will give it, and they shall possess it. (They all died who were 21 years old and over. This is not to say there is no knowledge before 21— but up to some age— (differing with the child) this description is applicable.)
Isaiah 7:16 For before the Child shall know to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land that you dread will be forsaken by both her kings. (There is an age where a child does not know to refuse evil and choose good. Again the age will differ with the child and with the training.)
1 Corinthians 13:11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. (Children deal with their sexuality as they think and understand— as children. As they mature, they are inclined to evaluate their conduct back when they were children, as though they were miniature adults. Let me repeat— Children deal with their sexuality as they think and understand— “as a child”. As they mature, they are inclined to evaluate their conduct back when they were children as though they were miniature adults rather than just children—which they were not.
1 Corinthians 14:20 Brethren, do not be children in understanding; however, in malice be babes, but in understanding be mature. (Again, the understanding of children is limited— their conduct will be consistent with their understanding as taught by parents and/or other responsible adults.)
An adult who was molested as a child, generally doesn’t need anyone to help him feel guilty or responsible because for some reason, by nature, children seem to take on the responsibility even when the responsibility cannot be theirs.
As I said earlier, if the husband and wife are not getting along, the children take that on as their responsibility. If the husband and wife separate, if the father leaves, for example, and abandons the family, the children generally tend to accept responsibility for that. If they are involved in a situation where they are the victims of abuse, they ultimately come to believe that they somehow deserve to be treated that way. That’s hard to deal with when you’re an adult and you look back and you say, “I must have deserved it.” When in reality, you didn’t. As an adult, they generally tend to look back and often say “I was responsible, I deserved it” In addition as I already said, they will feel this way particularly if they enjoyed any pleasure from it, if was done carefully, and with some gentleness. They will experience pleasure because God designed the system to work that way between a husband and wife.
So, if you’re a husband and your wife demonstrates some of these characteristics, it might be well to see if you could encourage her to open up and talk. If you’re a wife and your husband struggles with some of the things we’ve talked about, it might be well to see if you can encourage him to open up and talk. If they won’t open up and talk to you as a spouse, maybe they will open up and talk to someone else. If they can open up and talk, then generally they can work through it.
Hopefully they can come to the place where they can begin to see that as a child they did not have capacity, they did not have responsibility, and then therefore they cannot be responsible for what happened to them.
The next step is to help them look at God and what He’s done for them and help them to develop their trust in Him. To have capacity and authority, you must have knowledge, and you have to have ability. Without capacity, knowledge and authority the scriptures we have looked at make it clear that a person is not accountable.
I would again plead with parents to be awake I know of situations where cousins have been involved. I have heard people talk about the instructions we have from God’s word relevant to modesty— instruction for women and girls to dress in “modest clothing”. Modesty defined as “that which recognized the propriety of the sexes.” I have heard parents suggest that this is not important among family members. If you feel this way, you are mistaken. As assemblies over the years we have discourage males and females swimming together because of the way women dress to swim creates a situation where a woman cannot be modest. (I would again plead with parents to be awake, be alert.) If you think that it’s not important to maintain this modesty within a family, you’re mistaken. I don’t know anything in the scriptures that indicates that women are to be modest except among family members. I don’t mean between husband and wife, but among children, cousins, uncles, etc.. Immodest among siblings or cousins, is not wise. It will not create a problem in every home and it won’t always contribute to a problem when immodest relatives or friends are together. However, it is disobedient to God and His instruction to us which He gave to us for our protection. It is not wise to run the risk of being the family where someone is molested and you find out the hard way, why God gives exhortations concerning modesty. The ones God will hold responsible are the parents who were not vigilant and obedient to his word. Again, who is going to be held accountable? It is going to be the father (or mother if there is no father) who had the capacity to make the decision and should have had the vigilance to be responsible to do all he or she could to prevent that kind of thing from happening.
I don’t know of anything that has a much deeper affect in the life of a person than being verbally abused, physically abused, or sexually molested as a child. I don’t believe that most molesters even dream of the damage they are doing. If you are a man, or woman and you are attempted to get some kind of sexual pleasure from a young woman or man that is not your wife, or husband, particularly someone that is younger, believe me that you will damage that person almost irreparable for the rest of their life. Furthermore, your conduct will trouble your conscience for the rest of your life. It is not worth it. The damage done is not worth little bit of pleasure it brings and to have the damage on your conscience is not worth it.
If you are a father or a mother and you are not as vigilant as you should be, it’s not worth it to someday find out that because of your carelessness or lack of obedience to God’s instruction to you something happened to one of your children that could have been prevented. Again, even with the greatest of precaution, something may happen. So be alert!
If you are guilty because you have taken sexual advantage of a child or young person, if you are a child or adult who has been molested and you feel guilty, even though you need not feel guilty. God has made provisions for our sins— even the worst of them to be forgiven.
God so loved you that he gave his son (Jesus Christ) to suffer and die for your sins. If you accept him as your personal savior, he will forgive you and put your sins from you, as far as the east is from the west to be remembered against you no more.
John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
Psalms 103:10 He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor punished us according to our iniquities.
God has done his part to enable him to forgive your sins and still be just. Your part is to believe with your heart—accept Jesus Christ as your Savior—confess your sins— and stop the sin.
Romans 10:9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1 Corinthians 6:9-11 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.
The Lord Jesus Christ paid the penalty for your sin, whatever sin it is that you have committed. Your part is to accept him as your personal Savior and ask him to forgive you your sins. He wants to, because he loves you. To enjoy the joy of your salvation requires that you see yourself as He sees you. It will not be a concern to you how others see you. More important, you will give up how you see yourself and exchange your view for how God sees you.
You can have the confidence that you are loved and valued by God because as the apostle Peter says:
1 Pet 1:18 knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, 9 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb with out blemish and without spot.