Every day my news feed is bombarded with stories of pedophiles preying on, and attacking innocent children. When you allow your eyes to be opened, it becomes evident that this is beyond epidemic status. There are an estimated over 40,000,000 survivors of child sex abuse in the US alone. Wrap your mind around that number, if you can. I recently wrote about child molesters hiding in plain site. But there is another dimension I’d like to add to abusers–there are a lot of them. Unfortunately, most child molesters will never get caught. While this is a grim fact, I believe we can turn it around.
We’re reminded of the story when Jesus and his disciples get off the boat in the country of the Gerasenes. There was a demon possessed man who met them “in the tombs.” I have to wonder why evil spirits were lurking in the tombs. My best guess is that graveyards are a place of great pain for living family members. Visiting gravesites is a solemn and reverent occasion. For many people, the grave is a reminder that the person we love and held so dear is no longer with us. Evil exists to disrupt the very places where people go to try and make sense of, and overcome tragedy. Imagine the scene at the Gerasene tombs–anyone who wanted to bury or visit their deceased loved ones couldn’t because this violent man was screaming and shouting obscenities at the gravesite. It was an added insult to the injury of death.
Another thing that’s striking about this story is the power and persistence of evil–“And no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain, for he had often been bound with shackles and chains, but he wrenched the chains apart, and he broke the shackles in pieces. No one had the strength to subdue him” (Mark 5:3-4 ESV). People who are familiar with abuse know the lengths that perpetrators go to in order to continue abusing. Hiding, secrecy, shame, and manipulation all allow abuse to continue right under our very noses–in our churches, schools, daycares, sports events, and homes. Confronting a child molester and telling them to stop does not work. It has never worked. Evil is persistent. It doesn’t care about you, children, or God.
Night and day this man was back and forth between the tombs and mountain tops, blatantly causing fear and disruption. I have to wonder if the residents of the town were so used to his presence that they learned to ignore his actions. The thing that grips me most is his eerie response when Jesus asks his name: “My name is Legion, for we are many” (Mark 5:9). A Roman legion was a military term and could be up to 6,000 men. I’m not trying to create fear here, but this is the only category that fits for how many child sex abusers are living among us. They are everywhere, in plain view of us. And my experience tells me that we have, for various reasons, chosen to run and hide from them or have ignored that there are legions of them among us.
In his 2001 book Beyond Tolerance: Child Pornography On the Internet, Philip Jenkins entered chat rooms of pedophile rings to observe their secret community. He placed filters so that no images could be viewed, since the viewing of child pornography is highly illegal. What he found was astounding and shocking to him. There literally was such a large community of pedophiles sharing stories and pictures of the hundreds of victims they each were abusing, that Jenkins’ conclusion is that child pornography is not police-able. Keep in mind, this was 2001 when the internet wasn’t even close to being as accessible as it is today. As one pedophile in a chat room put it:
“When you think about it, just how many lola lovers
do we have here, maybe? 10,000 15,000 visit this
board, what about the other boards, and what of the
others that can not find this and the other boards? I
have seen some of the log files from some of the
net’s search engines, and the top search is childporn
and all the Lola lovers that don’t have a computer,
there must be millions out there some where ;)”
I think of Elijah Fernandez who, just last month, raped his girlfriend’s 4 month old baby then punched her in the head twice, rendering the child brain dead. The baby died shortly after at the hospital in Albuquerque. Here is a statement from the police department: “And I literally cannot explain to you what happened because it’s so graphic, you would not be able to air the charges,” said Simon Drobik of the Albuquerque Police Department. “Calls like this always effect officers and the unsung heroes of this department are the Crimes Against Children Unit. They see this all the time, day in, day out.”
They see this all the time, day in, day out. Talk to any police department. Give your local department a call. Ask them if this statement is accurate. I assure you that you’ll find this same response whether you live in a village or metropolis, in a satanic gathering or orthodox church. Do a search on “4 month old baby raped.” This story is not unique. It. Happens. All. The. Time. It’s time that we’re honest with ourselves and admit that this beyond the status of being a problem. We’ve got to stand up and face evil. Let’s call evil what it is. I remember when President Bush was mocked for his famous term “evil doers.” Are we going to mock people who call evil what it is? Is it funny? As I type this, I’m not laughing.
The interesting thing about the story of this demon possessed man is that Jesus didn’t allow evil to go on. He confronted the legion and cast them out. They were no longer welcome to terrorize the village, enter the tombs, or scream on the mountain top. Jesus didn’t say, “Karma will eventually get them.” No! He stood up against evil and essentially said, “You’re not welcome here any longer.” This is called justice. Can you imagine if our churches and communities unified and said, “This evil is no longer welcome in our town”? I believe we can, and we should be doing it. Let’s all join efforts to free the innocent of the effects of this evil.