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Blinded: Abuse in the Church

It is natural that we want life to stay comfortable.
We want what’s working to continue and we want a safe haven from the things that aren’t working.
It is very hard to comprehend evil when it happens in our own backyard, in our
own trusted circles, in our own church.
But we have misplaced our loyalty if we are turning a blind eye to evil just because the person committing
the sin is a respected leader in the church, especially when victims are involved.

Sometimes we in our fundamental circles can really get on a high horse.
We can act as if we are an untouchable group.
We may think that wicked sin isn’t happening in our churches.
We may believe our good, old-fashioned pastors and youth pastors won’t fall.
We may assume there is no domestic violence in our church members’ homes.
We may believe there is no sexual abuse happening within the church.
We may believe every leader can be trusted.

Many conservative Christians believe a lie that we are to obey, believe, and support our religious leadership without question.
Many also have been programmed to believe that if our leadership is accused of wickedness,
then they are being persecuted and we are to stand by them and that their accuser is the wicked one.

Unfortunately, our fundamental churches are a perfect place for domestic violence to be excused and for sexual predators to hide,
both hiding under the guise of some biblical principles that have been misused.

  • Submission
  • Obedience
  • Not questioning authority

The result?

We have proven sex offenders that are in leadership positions in our churches.
We have men and women that are told that they are to tolerate violence from their spouse in the home.
Domestic violence victims and sexual abuse victims are being told that their abuse is their fault.
Sin in leadership is being discovered and then covered.

I am not against conservative churches.
I have been in the Independent, Fundamental Christian movement for 22 years, and still am.
But our group has a known downfall.


Most of us in these circles have been taught to keep blinders on and to not question authority.
No matter what.
This is leading many to excuse the sin of those in religious authority (sexual abuse in the church)
AND is leading to the authority excusing the sin in the home, specifically domestic violence.

I am a fiercely loyal person.  I also hold leadership in high regard.
I believe that anyone who knows me would say that I uplift and reverence authority.

I am for leadership.
I am for obedience.
I am for Biblical submission.
I am against rebellion.
I am against slander.
I am against having a critical spirit against leadership.

What I am not for is blindly following.

I am not for submitting to physically and sexually abusive situations.
I am not for covering up the sexual sin of religious leaders.
I am not for a sexual abuse victim being told that the violation of their body was their fault.
I am not for sexual offenders being put in leadership positions.
I am not for a spouse being told that they are to submit to violence from their spouse.

You may be thinking to yourself that I am crazy.
That this isn’t really happening in our conservative churches.

But it is.

It happens everywhere, but our kind of church is a great cover for it because we often teach
submission no-matter-what and no-questions-asked leadership, and we teach this to our children.

How convenient for a predator to know that the teens and children are programmed to never question authority,
to be submissive and reverent to all leadership, and taught that the adult is always right, etc.

If the Holy Spirit has nudged your heart about something you see happening at church….
If your teenager says they feel uncomfortable around so and so…..
If your pastor is telling you that if you were a submissive spouse then you wouldn’t be beaten by your spouse…
If something doesn’t seem quite right, ask God to make it clear what action you should take.

Maybe it means that you don’t make little Johnny sit on Mr. Johnson’s lap.
Maybe it means that you take your teenager seriously that they are uncomfortable with Mrs. Lewis.
Maybe you try to be sure they are never alone with who they are uncomfortable with.
It doesn’t mean the leader did something, it means that your child has that icky feeling.
(Sometimes “icky feeling” is the only way a young child can articulate a situation.)
Maybe you educate your children and teens about the control they have over who touches their bodies.
Maybe you teach about uplifting and obeying authority, but also are sure to teach that
being a leader doesn’t mean it is ok to sin or to ask them to keep secrets.
Maybe you teach them that no one can touch their bodies, not grandpa, not brother, not preacher.
Maybe you seek other counseling about your physically abusive spouse so that you can be safe.

The crime of sexual abuse happens to 1 in 3 females and 1 in 4 males in their lifetime.

In childhood up to age 18, 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 13 boys experience sexual abuse.

In 91% of child sexual abuse,
the abuser is
 someone the child or family knows.

Beginning at the age of 5, I was abused 5 times by age 13.  At age 18, I was being “groomed” by 2 different predators.
Fortunately, they were not successful in their pursuit of me, although last I checked, one of them was in prison for sexually abusing his handicapped female relative.  Six of my 7 abusers were friends or family.

Pretending that sexual abuse isn’t happening around us is foolish.
And it is definitely not protecting our children to pretend it isn’t happening.

Blinders just make us blind. 
They do not protect from the evil.

Domestic violence in the homes of our beloved church family is another area where blinders are being worn,
and sin is being excused.

In many conservative Christian churches, if a woman comes to the pastor saying she is being physically abused by her spouse,
the woman is actually told it is her fault.

She is told that if she was more submissive it wouldn’t happen.
She is told that if she lost 30 pounds she would be more desirable and the hitting would stop.
She is told that she is to forgive and submit and is given no help to get out of the dangerous situation.
Or, she is flat out called a liar.

Domestic violence does not discriminate just because the couple faithfully attends or leads in church.
Domestic violence is not the spiritual problem of the victim,
but some leadership is counseling victims this way.

Author Julia Baird in her article in the New York Times wrote,

Instinctively leaders jump to protect the reputation of the church, instead of the lives of the women within it.”

Let me acknowledge here that there are men who are victims of domestic violence as well.

According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, “More than 1 in 3 women (35.6%) and more than 1 in 4 men (28.5%) in the United States have experienced rape, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime.”

As we sit in our congregation, we can know with assurance that there are people in the room with us that have experienced
or are still experiencing sexual abuse and/or experiencing domestic violence.
Sadly, in many churches, the sexual assault comes from someone within the church.
Sadly, the victims of both sexual and domestic abuse are being counseled that it is their fault.

We have a responsibility for the cause of Christ and for the protection of our families and loved ones to
stop pretending these things aren’t happening.

We also have a responsibility to not tolerate sex offenders in our leadership positions at church.
Forgiveness is important, but that does not mean they should be in a position of trust.

Don’t tolerate these things if this is happening in your circles.
We should not pretend these things aren’t happening just because we attend a conservative church.

I am for leadership.
I am for obedience.
I am for Biblical submission.
I am against rebellion.
I am against slander.
I am against having a critical spirit against leadership.

But I am also against leadership abusing authority, excusing abuse calling it a spiritual problem and I am against
not educating our children about their bodies and how they can help to keep themselves safe.

While we teach our young people to honor, uplift and reverence authority, we also need to be teaching them that if the
behavior of their leadership is harming them, causing harm to others, or not in agreement with scripture, then they can talk to us.
How foolish to tell our children to never come to us about something negative about an authority figure.  If our child comes to us with
something that is just critical and complaining, that is a great opportunity to teach them about the difference between gossip and needing real counsel.
But if we tell them to never come to us concerning authority, if we teach them authority is always right, then we are making them very vulnerable to abuse,
and we are giving them no safe person to seek help from if something were to happen.  (look at the above-proven data again, the risk is real)

I did not write this to be rebellious.  I don’t know why God led me to write this.
I have never before written something that may stir controversy.  That is not what I do.
But above all I listen to the Lord, even if what He has me write is uncomfortable.

Don’t let yourself be blinded just because you are connected to and immersed in good, old-fashioned,
conservative circles.  Sexual abuse and domestic violence does not discriminate. It has no boundaries.

You don’t have to live in fear,
you just have to live with your eyes open.

I feel confident that I can accurately say that someone you know is suffering from either sexual abuse or domestic violence.
Just let the Lord know that you are available to see the truth, that you are available to help if someone needs it.
Ask God for wisdom if you have suspicions that something isn’t quite right in your church community.

There is a godly, Biblical way to handle corrupt church leadership.

But ignoring sin in religious leaders is not godly or Biblical.

Someone needed this post I have written.
Friends, if it wasn’t you, pray for whoever it was for.

I have included many links to articles and resources to read further on these subjects.

Feel free to email me at [email protected]

With the best intentions,


What To Do If A Child Reveals Abuse  (How you react is extremely important)

The Silence About Childhood Sexual Abuse is Finally Breaking

Child Sexual Abuse

5 Myths the Church Often Believes About Domestic Violence

Domestic violence in the church: When women are believed, change will happen

Help to Escape Domestic Violence

National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline 800-656-HOPE (4673)

Victim Connect Resource Center

Financial Abuse (occurs in 98% abusive relationships)

Resources from "Helping Survivors" for a variety of abuse scenarios