Sex Abuse, the First Stone, Judge Not, and All That

On Sunday I put up a post about Voice of the Martyrs’ president, Tom White, who recently committed suicide in the midst of being investigated for allegedly sexually molesting a ten year old girl. This post generated a lot of comments, mostly from conservative religious commenters who are not, to my knowledge, regular readers of my blog. I’ve collected together some of the comments I received and have put them together into a post. I will finish with a short dictionary of arguments that essentially serve as Christian excuses for child molesters.

First, one of my regular readers made an excellent point (and one I intend to remember!):

Smrnda:

I actually think that Christian sexual ethics – which are based on purity rather than consent, are really to blame. When I read lists of ‘sexual sin’ that include say, ‘masturbation, homosexuality and rape’ I get really bothered since most sensible people would know that it’s really inaccurate and insensitive to put those together on a list as if they were equivalent – I mean, the first two being moral issues is a joke, the third is one of the most terrible things you can do. Most people are horrified at sexual abuse and rape and power and oppression – the whole ‘purity thing’ doesn’t seem to single out sexual abuse and assault as special categories worthy of special disdain. The whole ‘sexual sin is sexual sin’ trivializes real wrong sexual behaviors.

Yes. Thank you for making that point, Smrnda! And now we get into the excuse making:

Madelyn:

I am trully saddened in my heart to read about the death of Tom White, especially the way it happened. But those of you who have no sin, throw the first stone! How sick that people so quickly jump to conclusions, WHO SAYS THAT THIS IS TRUE??????? It might just as well be a big lie and Tom might have had already so much on his shoulders that he couldn’t face this false accusation. For those of you who have written negative things about him, how would you have felt “beign innocent”, if you were accused falsely of something like this. Be careful those who judge, as the same measure you judge, you will be judged….. The investigations might show that he is totally innocent, and even if not, I believe it is for NO ONE to go and sit in the judgement seat. As far as I know, God is the ONLY ONE that has that right, not humans…. I am more saddened about the responses of some and this sickening article than hearing about a brother that “might have fallen”….. Do not rejoice with evil but with good…….. It almost look like you are enjoying gossip and slander, just remember, NO GOSSIPERS OR SLANDERERS will enter the Kingdom of God……be careful!!!

In other words, don’t judge, don’t throw the first stone unless you are without sin, and this isn’t about a poor ten year old girl who may have been sexually abused but rather about a brother who “might have fallen.”

Sa:

Thank you, Madelyn. It makes me so angry that everyone assumes someone is guilty, just because a child accused him. He might be, he might not be. But we should stop talking as if this man has been tried and convicted.

Not even gonna respond to this one. Fortunately, Smrnda offered an excellent comment to Madelyn’s comment above:

Smrnda:

Madelyn, this isn’t about a brother who ‘might have fallen.’ Is that how Christians think of sex abuse ? I thought the possibility was that a child was victimized by an adult in a position of authority. This is exactly my problem with how the church handles child sex abuse – it’s never framed as a child that might be victimized, it’s like the victim doesn’t even exist. A ‘brother might have fallen’ is the guy might have bought a lotto ticket. Please. let’s not use euphemisms to trivialize possible sex crimes.

Next we get the all caps comment, of course, this one focused on the “judge not” theme:

SAVED BY GRACE:

oh. .BUT WHO ARE WE TO JUDGE????!!! JUDGE NOT, SO YE BE JUDGE. ONE CAN REASON WITH MEN’S SINFUL HEART. BUT IS IS GOD THE ULTIMATE JUDGE. ONE MUST PRAY SO NOT TO FALL INTO THE SAME SIN AND GO TO HELL TO BE WITH THE DEVIL AND HIS DEMONS.. LET THE ALMIGHTY HAVE MERCY ON EVERY JUDGING PERSON OUT THERE AND NOT BE CAST OUT INTO HELL. WE ALL NEED GRACE TO LIVE THIS LIFE NO MATTER WHO WE ARE.. TITLE OR NO TITLE!! JESUS IS THE ONLY WHO KNOWS THE HEARTS, AND WEAKNESSES. HE IS THE ULTIMATE JUDGE, NOT MERE HUMANS LIKE US.. WHO ARE ALSO WEAK WITHOUT HIM

And then there’s yet more of the “judge not,” this time with an implied threat:

Michael Stubbs:

The Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches recently reported there are around 600,000 clergy serving in churches around the United States. There are not “massive amounts of sex offenders” among them. What have you heard of? 25? 50? 100? I would say there are far less percentage-wise than in other professions or among the unemployed. Another point is that these allegations have not been proven and we don’t know if they are true or just a dark attempt to setup and destroy the ministry of VOM. His suicide proves nothing. I will allow the court of law decide what is true and what is not. I would give you the same courtesy. Judge not or you will be judged was not written for no reason. Maybe it could read, “Don’t judge or you will be given something to be judged for.” It is foolish to judge someone without the facts. My experience is that truth crushed to the ground always rises again. May truth prevail no matter the outcome.

Next there’s this:

Eugene:

I am shocked. Both by Tom’s death and by this terribly uninformed post. If your post is true, then we can also assume that everything Jesus was ACCUSED of was true, and make conclusions based on the accusations and act upon them. All those accusations were a staged circus! Are you part of that crowd?

So, now, because I discuss the the suicide of Tom White, who stands accused of sexually molesting a child, I am just like the people who crucified Jesus. Nice.

Not much grace here:

I find it quite sad that you assume Tom was guilty. Allegations and investigations do not equal guilt. Even suicide in the wake of the aforementioned two don’t equal guilt.

Beyond that, recall, there but for the grace of God go I.

1 Corinthians 10:12   Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.

I truly hope none of you are never accused.

Here we have a new theme – “but for the grace of God go I” – which is repeated in another comment:

Steven:

“Whoever has not sinned, cast the first stone.” Why do we always rip on people who fall into sin and call it hypocrisy? Do we not live in a broken world. I think post like this are full of arrogance. Calling someone a hypocrite is not right and you need to look in the mirror. If you cannot admit that we are all capable of ANYTHING, then something is wrong with you and I would be extremely careful in your life. Because some day you might be humbled. We can’t always think, well that would never happen to me or I would never do that. I am sure that Tom White thought that too. I am a minister and watch ministers fall all the time but it gets publicized so much because these are ministers. I see sin and darkness like this everyday, from people in the church and out. We are BROKEN. Instead of calling people hypocritess, why don’t you go out and love on broken people.

And here is Smrnda’s excellent response to Steven’s comment:

Smrnda:

As for anyone being capable of anything, I did a great deal of research on the psychology of sex offenders for several years. Some people are more predisposed to things like that; attitudes about sexuality and gender play a role, but sexual predators are not people with impulse control issues. They plan their crimes deliberately, are highly manipulative and know how to exploit other people’s capacity for trust and are great at presenting a good image to the world so that they’ll escape detection. And if they get caught, they always try to present what they did as a lapse of judgment, not something that they consciously and carefully planned to do to avoid detection. The usual attitude towards ‘sexual sin’ amongst Christians seems to conflate everything to a self-control issue. Read the real research – sexual predators do not have impulse control issues. They have a problem with enjoying power, control and domination of others.

But then another reader repeated the same idea:

William James:

Who am I to judge, there but for the grace of God, go I.

And so I responded:

Libby Anne:

See, this is the logic I have a problem with. It’s simply NOT TRUE. I’m not going to sexually abuse children because I believe doing so is morally wrong – and besides that I have no desire of any sort to do so. I’m not holding off some inner pedophile “by the grace of God.” Saying things like the statement you just made normalize the abusive actions and make it seem like it’s something anyone could do at any time, thus trivializing it. They also get the perpetrator off the hook. I mean what, did he suddenly wake up one day and the “grace of God” was gone so he started abusing children? Sorry, but no. Just no.

And he responded:

William James:

Libby, if you would permit me to reply … By “there but for the grace of God go I,” I do not intend to suggest that I have any inner secret desire to abuse children. Such activity is reprehensible, and must be punished by the full extent of the law. Jesus Himself said, “ts is better that a millstone be hung around one’s neck and be cast into the sea, than to cause a little one to stumble.” So I’m not suggesting in the least that this gets anyone off the hook. What I mean to say is that apart from God’s restraining grace, ANY human being is capable of ANY evil. The only reason you or I are not pedophiles or murderers has NOTHING to do with our sense of morality, but with God’s grace. Now you may not see it that way, but that does not in any way make it untrue. Case in point … Apart from God’s restraining grace, humankind executed the greatest evil to EVER have been done – the crucifixion of the Son of God. So much for man’s inherrant moral goodness.

And I responded again:

Libby Anne:

But doesn’t that make wrongdoing God’s fault? If he’s going around restraining or not restraining as he chooses, then how can humans be to blame for how they act? That makes no sense. What about free will? What you’re saying completely negates the idea that humans have free will.

And just as an fyi, I’m an atheist. So the idea that I’m not a pedophile or a murderer because of “God’s grace” sounds ludicrous to me. I’m not a pedophile or a murderer because I do not sexually molest kids or murder people. Why do I not do these things? Because first, I have no desire to do so, and second, even if I did, I believe that these things are, according to the Humanist code of ethics I ascribe to, morally wrong.

You can go read any additional comments as you like, but I think that’s enough for the point I’m trying to make – a point these comments really make for me. I have to say, I was horrified to read many of these comments. I guess I somehow missed how this all gets talked about in these circles when I was growing up in them. I mean, I grew up hearing these things all the time, I guess maybe what I missed was just how much these phrases sound like what they are: excuses.

So I’ve made a short list of the arguments these comments use to essentially excuse or lesson the horror of religious authorities sexually abusing children:

  • Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.
  • Judge not lest you be judged.
  • We are all capable of anything.
  • We must pray for our “fallen brother.”

Is there anything I’ve missed?

About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.

  • Dawn

    Hi, Libby Anne. I don’t remember if I’ve commented under my own name or my ‘nym before.

    However, what I want to say is that as you pointed out, the poor victim gets ignored by the excusers. I am not declaring if the man was innocent or guilty. I don’t have any of the facts. But the poor child gets ignored. If she was sexually abused by this man, she will live and struggle with that for the rest of her life. If he was innocent and she lied (and why on earth would a 10 year old child make up a story like that?), then she should be punished for lying. But let’s not excuse the accused because “we are all sinners”.

    Like you, I am an atheist. But I would never consider robbing, murdering, or sexually abusing anyone. It’s not one of my desires. I try to live an honest, moral life, that’s what I believe in. I’m sorry that the excusers can’t see that all they are doing is excusing someone in power, BECAUSE he is (was) in power, not paying attention to the real issue.

  • http://infidel753.blogspot.com/ Infidel753

    Funny how the same kind of people who always denounce homosexuality, abortion, and whole arrays of other harmless things as “immoral” are also quick to switch to “judge not”, etc., the minute some leading religious bigot gets accused of (or flat-out caught at) doing something genuinely horrible to somebody.

    The “there but by the grace of God” line is just a sub-set of the idea that morality ultimately can only be based on religion, and is genuinely frightening. Do these people genuinely believe that they themselves would be running around killing and raping if not for fear of their imaginary friend’s disapproval? Do they genuinely believe everyone would be?

    • Paula G V aka Yukimi

      Taking into account some people had been replied to their coming out: “I’m an atheist” with: “What is preventing you from going out and killing people if you don’t believe?”, “then why are you a blood donor”, “So how do you know the difference between right and wrong?” or many other exquisite gems I kind of guess some do believe that…

    • minuteye

      Frightening is right. If the only thing keeping you from murdering or raping children is your belief in hell, I’m not entirely comfortable being alone with you.

    • http://kagerato.net/ kagerato

      “Do these people genuinely believe that they themselves would be running around killing and raping if not for fear of their imaginary friend’s disapproval? Do they genuinely believe everyone would be?”

      The short answer is yes, many authoritarians do believe that the only thing restraining most (if not all) people is the authority in power. This is the basis from which they are able to construct many absurd arguments. It’s a faulty premise, obviously, and trivially disproved by even a modest number of atheists and/or anarchists acting in a moral or restrained manner.

      However, they won’t give up on their premises no matter how flawed, because they form the basis of their world view. It is a circular and self-reinforcing system by design.

    • http://wonderingwanderingthoughts.blogspot.com OneSmallStep

      **Do these people genuinely believe that they themselves would be running around killing and raping if not for fear of their imaginary friend’s disapproval? Do they genuinely believe everyone would be?**

      The thing about their line of reasoning is that it contradicts their whole “reborn in Christ” sort of idea. If being reborn in Christ means that one has cast away sin, has become a new person, and no longer pursues any sort of “evil,” then there is no way they should be casually proclaiming that they’d be running around killing and raping, except for the fact of hell. It should be an anathema to them.

      • Butterfly

        When I was a teenage fundy, I simply never thought about the contradictions. Since everything was based on faith and reason was suspect, I stopped thinking critically for years. It was simply easier to take everything on faith. Because I chose to do that, I still have trouble thinking critically to this day. Faith is a very hard habit to break.

  • jemand

    Each one of these, needs to remember, they personally know someone who had been abused as a child. Maybe they even know a child suffering ongoing abuse. It is much more common than people think. And most people know a good number of children, even if just as acquaintances. I suppose it’s statistically possible they don’t, but *really unlikely.*

    Every single time they say things like this, they are contributing to a world in which children do not feel safe to come forward with their stories and truth, where children have *direct evidence* that their child’s experience is ignored and overlooked in favor of the more powerful adult’s, where children can tell from how other kids are treated when they come forward, that perhaps they could deal better by being silent.

    And the thing is? It’s NOT required by the religion! The things Jesus taught, do NOT mean that believers must revere wolves in sheep’s clothing, say! So many verses one could pick showing the focus and concern for children, those exist too… The *choice* to pick certain verses as opposed to others? And focus on an interpretation which further victimizes the powerless, further marginalized the silenced, and contributes to the power of the ones already in authority? The CHOICE to err on the side that creates more abused little girls vs. err on the side of inadvertent damage to the reputations of powerful men?

    Those are *choices,* not givens from the text of the Bible, and honestly? I take them as direct evidence for what kind of person these commenters are. They can’t hide behind religion for this– they really just don’t care about kids, or the safety of the powerless. They talk like everyone’s a monster because *they* are monsters and don’t want to admit they could be otherwise.

  • Rachel

    And here I thought Christians believed in “and a little child will lead them.” Funny how kids are liars (as are Bible verses) when they speak against power.

    Also interesting: how none of those who are thinly accusing you of being a secret child molester think that Tom should have thought “there but for the grace of God go I” when judging others. Or when judging you, they might themselves be secret child molesters. This goes both ways, people.

  • http://incongruouscircumspection.blogspot.com Incngruous Circumspection

    Durn! I need to become a Christian again. Then I can do whatever I please and claim “fallen” status. Wait, isn’t that what Christians accuse me of? They say I became an agnostic simply to enable my sinful desires. I don’t see a difference.

  • Mina

    Is there anything you forgot? I’m terrified to think there might be more.

    Mr “There but for the grace of god” illustrates exactly why I whole heartedly reject the philosophy of Christianity all together. This idea that we were made broken and only if we fall in line will our maker fix us is repugnant.

  • Rosa

    You forgot the assertion that these issues should be handled privately, inside the church. I see Bible verses quoted supporting that but I can’t ever remember what they are. See, if you discover that your “brother” is committing a crime, first you should talk to him privately, then you should take it to a council of elders, but in no case should you, you know, protect the victim or go to the police, because then it’s gossip and hurting the testimony of the church.

    Oh also: and the group that harbors pedophiles does so much good work, only Satan would publicize their misdeeds.

    • kisekileia

      I’ve seen this sort of dynamic in a non-religious organization too. Complaints were shushed unless they went through the exact proper procedures. I think forcing people who report abuse/misconduct to adhere to particular procedures that don’t protect victims is probably something a lot of toxic organizations do.

  • http://wonderingwanderingthoughts.blogspot.com OneSmallStep

    **If you cannot admit that we are all capable of ANYTHING, then something is wrong with you and I would be extremely careful in your life. **

    The problem with this line of thinking is that it completely ignores the impact that environment has on shaping a person. Who I am, and how I was raised, means that I would absolutely *never* molest a child. So it’s not like I’m going to wake up tomorrow and WHAM — suddenly want to be a molester. That, and it absolves people of personal responsibility.

    **Apart from God’s restraining grace, humankind executed the greatest evil to EVER have been done – the crucifixion of the Son of God. So much for man’s inherrant moral goodness.**

    Wait … what??? The whole theology of Christianity hinges on the fact that Jesus had to be executed in order to appease God’s wrath so humanity could be “saved.” (And I love that the implication here is that executing Jesus is more evil than raping children. Got it).

  • jemand

    Oh also! There are some more you don’t have. “Forgive and forget” and “transformational grace” and some others which have conceded what happened but still dead set against any actual *consequences* or change in status of the predator.

  • Petticoat Philosopher

    I’ve never really gotten the “Judge not lest ye be judged” thing, which is funny because it’s one of those parts of the New Testament that even non-Christians tend to see as A Good Thing. But why? I reserve the right to judge people who do evil things and if I were ever deserving of judgment, I would hope that I’d get it. I actually WANT to be held responsible for my actions. But “Don’t call people on the messed up crap they do in case you get called on the messed up crap you do?” What kind of morality is that?

    • minuteye

      And for that matter, I’d rather live in a world where I might be falsely accused of a horrible crime, than a world where people who commit such a crime are never brought to justice out of fear of making a false accusation.

    • kagekiri

      Yeah, Paul says to expel the sexually immoral from the church in 1st Corinthians 5.

      1 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that even pagans do not tolerate: A man is sleeping with his father’s wife. 2 And you are proud! Shouldn’t you rather have gone into mourning and have put out of your fellowship the man who has been doing this?
      4 So when you are assembled and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, 5 hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord.
      11 But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.

      12 What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? 13 God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you.”

      So, to the scumbag Christians who would defend child rapists and molesters, you’re reading your Bible wrong.

      Yes, you should judge this asshole and expel him, none of this “God will provide justice in the end” shit. It’s your duty to exile and shun him as brothers and sisters in Christ.

      Remember: Jesus didn’t say “never stone someone again.” He forgave one adulterer, but also said any lust is adultery. He made thought-crime a reality, and didn’t stop the practice of stoning adulterers in general. Hell, he’s the one who supposedly came up with the “stone adulterers” rule in the first place! You don’t get grace credit for forgiving one person if you’re the one who came up with the death penalty for the crime!

      Jesus was not about earthly justice: he didn’t say to argue for truth and justice, he said to endure unfair punishments and injustices carried out by governments with thanksgiving.

      So stop trying to apply his forgiveness crap to legal matters. You’re being Christian WRONG, and it’s disgusting.

  • Karen

    I’m also not ready to judge White without hearing the whole story; I’m a big fan of innocent until proven guilty. I think it’s the best approach to judicial decisions on the whole, even if an occasional slimeball gets through.

    BUT…

    When the evidence is presented, it’s the JOB of a subset of our citizens to judge. A civil society can’t live without a legal system. Furthermore, we can’t maintain our civil society without society judging as a whole what and what not is acceptable. Child abuse is unacceptable under any circumstances in our society, especially sexual abuse.

    And if he was guilty, well, he may have taken the only reasonable option that seemed available to him. There’s a lot of vigilante justice administered against child molesters in prison.

    • jemand

      Innocent until proven guilty may be good enough for jail….

      But it’s NOT good enough for jobs where one works with kids. I’m FAR more comfortable with a false accusations making some, relatively privileged adult, find another job, than erring on the side of letting more kids get hurt by leaving a predator in a position of direct authority over them.

      “Innocent until proven guilty” applied across the board, does a lot of harm! The standards of “proof” can be very high, especially in a culture which places more weight on the word of an adult, than a child, which pays more attention to the stories of someone who is powerful, than powerless, etc.

      So, it might be ok for the legal system, but is a bad idea for a school board… and when it comes to a parent letting someone live in their house with their kids? HORRIBLE IDEA. (But yet, it seems, some people do it!)

      I dunno. I just think “innocent until proven guilty” is a catchphrase that’s bandied about a whole lot in current american parlance without people really investigating who gets hurt by it, and what are the alternatives. Our constitution and legal system aren’t divine mandates for how to live properly, either. They require skepticism and critical thought.

    • Steve

      Him killing himself is a very good indicator that he was guilty

      • Leni

        @ Steve- Not necessarily. People accused of crimes against children will face a lifelong stigma whether they are found guilty or not. Would you hire someone with that on their record? I wouldn’t. I’m not saying I feel sorry for the people who are guilty, but I think most of us would consider suicide if we were faced with that.

  • Emma

    A couple things. First, Christians seem to forget this “judge not lest ye be judged” stuff when it comes to judging LGBTQ persons, so called sluts, abortion doctors, women who get abortions, etc.

    Second, if no one is allowed to judge others because we’re all equally sinful, then why don’tChristians oppose the criminal justice system?

    • Steve

      One standard reply is “I’m not judging you. God is”. They think they can get away with it because their “holy” book says so. So it’s not really them doing anything.

    • shadowspring

      Great point, Emma!

  • shadowspring

    Thanks, Smrnda and Libby Anne, for advocating on behalf of victimized children, and exposing the ridiculousness of protecting accused abusers just because they share your religious beliefs.

    I can’t say definitively that Tom White was guilty or not, but his actions predispose me to believing he was guilty. Also, why would a ten year old child make up an accusation against him? I do know sometimes children are pressured by adults to make accusations (my mom influenced me to falsely accuse my stepfather of abuse) but in such cases the bogus nature of the claim and the ulterior motive (custody of children in a nasty divorce) are pretty obvious.

    My stepfather was not guilty, never backed off of his claim of innocence, and was never charged. It never entered his mind to commit suicide! OTOH, I think a person of Mr. White’s religious stature would only consider suicide if he was guilty. Otherwise wouldn’t he be buying into the righteous martyr concept, declaring his innocence, and lining up the character witnesses? But if he knew he was guilty, and did fear God’s justice by public exposure, then perhaps he was suicide as a just penance for his crimes? Makes more sense religious wise.

  • Teri

    When Christians dismiss tragedies with platitudes such as “we are all sinners” or “there is sin in the world”, they are really saying they do not care. A person would never make such comments if it was their daughter who was molested. Instead they would go to the police and do everything they could to seek justice.

    • MadGastronomer

      If only that were true! All too often, parents with too much invested in their religious community decide their children are lying rather than believe that their pastor or priest could do such a thing, or are convinced by the community not to make waves, or even that it is the fault of their child.

  • Robin

    I am a Christian who has been following your blog for months because I find you to be an interesting and insightful person. I found your initial blog about Tom White’s suicide to be spot-on – as I do this current post. These people who self-righteously preach “judge not, blah, blah, blah,” are in fact being judging themselves when making assumptions and pronouncements about the spiritual life of Tom White or anyone else. Presuming Tom White to be innocent “because we don’t have all the facts” is itself making a judgment – this presumption also implies that the girl and her family are lying. Why not assume they are telling the truth and work from there?

    This idea of “presumed innocent until PROVEN guilty” is from the American criminal judicial system – not from the Bible. In order to protect the rights of the accused in our judicial system, they are “presumed” innocent and are treated as such– this is not a declaration that they are ACTUALLY innocent. In America, there is also the standard of “the preponderance of evidence” which is used in civil cases and only requires something to be more likely than not. In this case, I believe it to be more likely than not that the abuse occurred. I am presuming the girl’s accusation to be true.

    After reading your first blog about Tom White, I compiled a list of the common excuses I could think of which Christians make to excuse sin and hypocrisy in the life of a respected Christian leader, and after reading this blog I have a few more I can add. I have heard many of these excuses first hand. My own mother is the head of a respected Christian ministry – and yet she is secretly an atheist who often mocks and demeans the very Christians who support her. She is the worst type of hypocrite and is also a genuine sociopath who has perpetrated much evil against her own husband and children.

    By the way, I am not equating atheists with sociopaths – my mother just happens to be both. I’m fine with her being an atheist – I just want her to be open and honest about it. I have tried to expose my mother’s duplicity to people within her circle and have been flat-out dismissed by almost everyone because they don’t want to face the reality of hypocrisy and hidden sin in the life of someone they practically venerate. Instead, I have been accused of being angry, unforgiving and/or mentally-ill.

    I don’t understand why so many Christians put their leaders up on pedestals and consider them to be beyond reproach or valid criticism (“touch not my anointed”, blah, blah, blah). Having an image of being a respected Christian leader provides great cover for people who are duplicitous or have sociopathic natures. Because my response is rather lengthy, I will post my list of Christian Excuses separately.

  • Robin

    Below is the list I compiled the other day and posted on FaceBook using my pseudonym.
    ===============

    Common Excusing and Accusing Statements Said to a Person Who Exposes Sin in the Life of a Respected Christian Leader or Authority Figure (male or female) – By Robin Tulley:

    “What right do you have to make such an accusation against someone who has done such great things for the Lord? You’re going to destroy everything he spent his life building.”

    “I’ve known so-and-so for years and and can speak to her character and I know she would never do [..accusation..].”

    “It’s all in the past – why are you bringing it up now?”

    “Let it go – why destroy the reputation of someone just because of something they may have done years ago.”

    “Maybe he did do this – but have you forgiven him? You’re sinning by carrying unforgiveness in your heart.”

    “That is just your opinion and/or perspective.”

    “God said, “Touch not my anointed.” It isn’t any of your business – If ‘so-and-so’ has sin in his life, it is between him and God.”

    “I asked ‘so-and-so’ about your claims and she said that you —— [have an ax to grind] [have personal issues] [are emotionally unstable] [are a known liar] [misinterpreted the situation] [have hidden sin in your own life]”

    “God said that we aren’t to judge others. Go remove the log from your own eye before you look for a splinter in the eye of ‘so-and-so.’”

    “We’re all sinners. Jesus said, “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.” Are you saying you are without sin? ”

    “It’s up to God to judge – you’re putting yourself in the place of God.”

    “Let by-gones be by-gones and keep the past in the past.”

    “We’ve all made mistakes. I’m sure there are things in your own life you wouldn’t want to have made public or have held against you.”

    “She says you’re the one who actually did [..accusation..] – and now you’re just trying to shift the blame.”

    “This is just a case of ‘he said/she said’ – there isn’t any proof of what you’re claiming.”

    “You’re the only person who has made this claim. If ‘so-and-so’ had really done these things there would be other people coming forward.”

    ========
    And so on and so on….. Anything to avoid facing the ugly truth and the actions it would require. Remember, Jesus said, “By their fruits you will know them.” We DO have the right to assess the lives and actions of people who claim to be Christians and compare their behavior (both public and private) to Biblical standards. Leaders are to be held to an even higher standard than the average lay-person – this is Biblical.

    “Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment.” — James 3:1

    • kagekiri

      As I mentioned in another comment, Paul in 1st Corinthians 5 says to expel the immoral from among the church, and says that Christians are supposed to judge each other, while leaving God to judge non-Christians.

      So that’s a good one to throw into the teeth of people who don’t want to hold their fellow Christians accountable for their screw-ups.

    • http://loreleitracy.etsy.com LoreleiHI

      Most of those statements that you cited were used against me when I told people that my father was molesting me.
      The kicker was that he admitted it, but said that he had repented before the pastor–and since I wasn’t forgiving and forgetting, the church considered me to be the one in sin, to have the demons of bitterness and unforgiveness.
      I learned that I couldn’t trust anyone, and that they were allowed to do what they wanted to me. After all, I was damaged goods.

  • http://ginambakkun.blogspot.com Gina

    I love that some of these people are willing to “throw the first stone” at a 10 year old girl. Mercy goes both ways.

  • Lys

    I’ve been wanting to post on this but just can’t get my thoughts organized. However, I do want to say I am a christian, would probably be labelled a “conservative” christian, and am uttlerly and completely apalled and outraged at the attitudes many christians display when it comes to sexual abuse of children within the church (both protestant and catholic). I think it is disgusting and un-christlike. Really, we are going to get all outraged and our panties in a bunch because people aren’t considering and discussing that the little 10 year old may be making all these accusations up? Sick. And we shouldn’t judge? Pulease. What a ridiculous, embarrasing and foolish abuse of that verse. And sorry, we don’t need exhaustive evidence to form an opinion on this case and on sexual abuse of children in general. This is not a court of law, we are not judges and juries deciding whether a man is guilty and should go to jail or not. We are simply people discussing real life on a blog. Christians need to wake up to the reality of sexual abuse of children within (and without) the church. They need to realize predators seek out churches to molest children because Christians are dumb, easy targets or because they know it is more likely to be covered up or not handled properly (i.e. turning it directly over to the police and making sure it is handled by them). I could go on and on but just wanted to make it clear that some christians are outraged at this and are apalled at the way other church-going people react to such matters. And our outspoken about it toward other christians.

    • http://peyre.x10.mx/ Leon

      Thank you Lys and Robin. It’s heartening to see some truly good Christians comment on something like this, when more often we see what I can only describe as bad Christians finding reasons to excuse the misbehavior of their leaders.

  • http://theurbanfarmhouse.blogspot.com Annie C

    You left out the whole Pastor Ron Williams/IFB variant where they claim the victim is a “strange woman” with a harlot’s heart which cannot be redeemed and so she seduced the man in question. And no, age is not a factor in their argument.

  • Rilian

    So some people said that you shouldn’t assume the person was guilty (which is true, it’s possible he was innocent) and that they would just wait for the result of the trial. But the guy is dead now. I don’t think they bother going on with a trial when the accused is dead. He’ll just be an alleged molester forever now.

  • Meggie

    I know everybody is going to shoot me down for saying this but – kids do lie. A few people have suggested a ten year old child wouldn’t make this sort of thing up. In my experience as a teacher and a foster parent, they can and do. They will also tell the truth but name someone different because they are scared.

    I am NOT defending Tom White. I am NOT suggesting this particular child lied. I am saying that it is dangerous to automatically assume that either one is innocent without any evidence. I am worried about what the future now holds for the girl who made the accusation. I do not know what the procedure is when, during an investigation, the suspect commits suicide. There seem to be a lot of people who doubt the girl and if the investigation is not completed, I can see a future where she is blamed for his suicide rather than being seen as his victim.

    I am slightly amused (while also being incredibly horrified) by all the “judge not” comments, as they all seem to be judging Libby Anne & Smrnda.

  • DaveL

    Libby Anne, have you ever read Robert Altemeyer’s research on the psychology of authoritarians leaders and followers? If not, you really should. This dichotomy of a harsh desire to punish outsiders versus the instinct to protect and excuse their own leaders is a hallmark of the Authoritarian Follower personality type.

    Here’s a link.

  • smrnda

    As for kids and lying, there has been some work that subjecting kids to certain types of questioning and interrogations can get kids to give the answers people want; in fact, certain interrogation techniques can end up with people confessing to crimes that they could not possibly have actually committed.

    On another blog I ran across a comment that ‘innocent till proven guilty means we can’t put a guy in jail for rape unless he is convicted because the evidence establishes his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. It does not mean that if he’s acquitted I have to hire him to be a baby-sitter.’ That’s an inexact quote but the sentiment stuck with me and demonstrates that we sometimes can’t base how we deal with people purely on legal reasons. I think Jemand made a good point that sometimes we need to be a little bit more suspicious because the cost of not being so would be too high.

    Perhaps a problem I have is the sort of ‘one size fits all’ thinking about human motivations and ‘sin’ or human badness that seems to be a part of some people’s theology. I can accept someone being of the opinion that say, homosexuality is immoral. Though I might not find their point of view persuasive, I can accept that disagreement. I can’t accept equating consensual sex acts between adults as morally equivalent to sex abuse or rape – to me, when I think about moral issues I ask myself who would be the victim of the action, and when I don’t see a victim I’m disinclined to think of the action as being ‘moral’ or ‘immoral.’ There’s also a difference in a person who may happen to disappoint people and someone who is consciously being manipulative and controlling.

    I’m not sure which philosopher originated this – I read it in something by Ken Wilbur who I consider a bit of a looney – but two ways of thinking about morals were contrasted. One focuses on adherence to some standard, and the other focuses on how actions affect others. I definitely think the second is superior, and is even supported by Jesus who noted that how we treat our neighbors says more about one’s relationship with God than how one explicitly relates to God.

    As for Ron Williams and the ‘strange woman,’ I read that he preaches this nonsense to kids have often been victimized whose parents have sent them to him to set them straight. To me, though a few parts of the Bible are clear enough to make a point that they say some particular thing, in their attempt to be poetic and literary the authors of most books of the Bible have come out with a convoluted mess that, someone, people pretend are making clear, axiomatic assertions. The “strange woman” comments in proverbs are just opaque beyond there being able to be a clear message, other than ‘adultery is bad.’ As for parents who put their vulnerable kids in a position of listening to a guy who argues that there’s something permanently wrong with them that causes adults to abuse them, that’s child abuse and the parents should be held accountable as much as the man spewing the garbage.

  • http://thewordsonwhat.wordpress.com/ Rob F

    I feel compelled to agree with “Smrnda”‘s comment that was quoted in the post.

    To back up my point, here are some studies/discussions/reports on the topic. Libby Anne, I don’t know if you’ve seen them before.

    From a meta-study:

    More than 100 reports in the scientific and professional literature, involving more than 35,000 subjects, indicate that rapists, child molesters, incestuous parents, and sexually motivated murderers are typically very conservative in their sexual and social values and sometimes more religious than average—suggesting that in many cases traditional sexual morality is a contributing factor in sexual abuse rather than a deterrent.

    Riss (see pp. 14-5)

    Article mentions a study indicating that incest and abuse in Fundamentalist homes is proportionately higher than in the general population.

    Online study that says: (cites removed) “[I]ndividuals with stereotypical gender role attitudes were more accepting of rape myths and the use of physical and sexual violence than those with egalitarian attitudes. Similarly, [it was] reported that [college students] those who endorsed the most traditional gender role attitudes were more likely to endorse the use of force in marriage.

    • kisekileia

      Very interesting! Thank you for posting this.

  • http://nojesusnopeas.blogspot.com James Sweet

    SAVED BY GRACE:

    IT IS BY CAPITAL LETTERS ALONE BY WHICH WE ARE SAVED!!!1!!111

    • Paula G V aka Yukimi

      Hahahah! Thanks, I really needed a laugh James =D

  • http://loreleitracy.etsy.com LoreleiHI

    I know that it’s late to be writing in this post, but I was listening to music, and this lyric hit me again and again and again…because it’s so true for me:

    I can run for the office and run for my cause.
    I can run using every last ounce of energy.
    I cannot, I cannot, I cannot run from my family.

    They’re hiding inside of me.
    Don’t change my life.
    Help me if you might but don’t tell my family.
    They’d never forgive me.
    They’d say that I’m crazy.
    But they would say anything if it would shut me up
    Shut me up
    Shut me up

  • Pingback: More on excuses made for child molesters


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X