By Danni Moss
Copyright protected, all rights reserved
But back to the family and friends of those who are justly accused. The wounds and scars for these people are no less real, though perhaps less dramatic and crippling, than of those who were directly abused. Rather than blaming this pain on the victims and on victims’ advocates, the blame needs to placed squarely on the one who caused it.
We cannot step gently around the guilty party and his family/friends to spare them pain. There is a reason for this. Anyone who has been a victim knows exactly what I’m talking about here. When a victim discloses abuse, God expects the church to stand for justice. If the church turns quickly to “forgive” and “extend grace” to the guilty, the church stands against the victim, by default.
A church cannot stand for both the victim and the accused simultaneously – this is an impossibility. To embrace one, the church must turn it’s back on the other. Even if that is not the intention, it is the very clear perception of the victim. Yes, the guilty needs restoration, healing, and God’s grace. But that needs to happen somewhere besides in the victim’s church. We tend to look at the victim and see one insignificant person, while we look at the abuser and see a person of authority and influence- in fact, we view this as his church – and we make the foolish choice of embracing the more visible party. This is unjust and grinds salt into the wounds of a victim. In fact, this makes it literally impossible for a victim to remain in the church. A victim cannot go worship where they are also being simultaneously forced to see and socialize with their abuser. This is impossible.
There is a real place for God’s grace and forgiveness for the guilty, but our first obligation is to stand up for righteousness by protecting and supporting the victim. In fact, the entire church has been victimized when a person in authority in that church takes advantage of someone in it. This person cannot remain in the church where he held a position of authority during an extended period of healing (generally measured in years – and could reasonably be expected to be permanent).