Preventing Abuse: There Are No Monsters

I’m working my way through Gavin De Becker’s excellent book, The Gift of Fear. De Becker works with the highest ranking government officials, including presidents, to assess risk of violent behavior. He created the MOSAIC Threat Assessment Systems, which is still used by the CIA, high profile public figures, and the public. Though De Becker specializes in predicting violent behavior, many of the principles should be applied to predicting child sexual abuse.

My experience working with churches tells me that they are generally way too trusting of everyone. The majority of church leaders I speak with equate kindness with morality and trustworthiness, they have a high level of naivety when it comes to protection of children, they are oftentimes strongly resistant to making drastic policy changes that include background checks on all volunteers and accountability for volunteers working with children, and they believe that they would be able to detect an abuser if he was among them. Put another way, they believe that abusers look like monsters and therefore are easy to spot. I might add that this is not a problem that’s isolated with churches. Daycares, schools, camps, and people employing babysitters are just as trusting of individuals.

But, as De Becker rightly observes, it’s precisely because we are looking for monsters that we are such good targets. In fact, abusers are not monsters at all. They are people like you and I. They look like us, talk like us, dress like us, work like us, pray like us, and are likely some of our best friends or family members. Because we don’t want to believe that people we personally know are capable of such crimes, we hear things in the news like, “He was such a nice man. I still don’t believe he was capable of doing such bad things. He must have just snapped.” De Becker’s point is that, simply because we ourselves wouldn’t commit a certain crime, we don’t want to fathom that our close friends would either. He says:
Every day people engaged in the clever defiance of their own intuition become, in midthought, victims of violence and accidents. So when we wonder why we are victims so often, the answer is clear: It is because we are so good at it. A woman could offer no greater cooperation to her soon-to-be attacker than to spend her time telling herself, “But he seems like such a nice man” (De Becker, 30).

Point well taken. It’s so important for us to realize that real crimes are committed by real people who don’t necessarily look like whack-jobs. De Becker adds:
So, even in a gathering of aberrant murderers there is something of you and me. When we accept this, we are more likely to recognize the rapist who tries to con his way into our home, the child molester who applies to be a baby-sitter, the spousal killer at the office, the assassin in the crowd. When we accept that violence is committed by people who look and act like people, we silence the voice of denial, the voice that whispers, “This guy doesn’t look like a killer” (De Becker, 46).

He recommends doing the exact opposite of what we are doing every day–we need to observe behaviors, not personalities. Crimes are never created out of thin air. People don’t just “snap.” There are always behavioral indicators prior to acting out. This applies to murderers and it applies to child molesters. We need to be more observant of behavioral patterns that indicate problems and malevolence. I recently had a person give me a laundry list of red flag behavioral issues with a man at church–he’s giving gifts to young kids, he offers to baby sit, he takes particular interest in certain kids, he tries to isolate them by offering rides, he invites them to his house, etc. I explained that he is very high risk and should be removed from activities which include children, to which this person replied, “But he’s so nice and is highly respected by everyone.” My response was, “So what?”

So many of us fall into the trap of believing that abusers look like monsters, that we don’t even want to entertain the possibility of abuse and so our interpretation of certain behaviors becomes tainted. Consider the questions we ask the applicant for the baby sitting job or the Youth Leader position at church–Are you good with children? What are your strengths? What is your experience working with kids in the past? These questions tell us nothing of their behaviors with children. Nor do they put a would-be abuser on the spot so that we can observe their mannerisms in real time. Should we not be asking questions like, “Do you have any sexual attraction to children? Have you ever physically touched a child inappropriately or thought about doing so? Have you ever viewed child pornography? What would you do if you felt a child was soliciting sex?, etc. We can learn a lot about a person by asking the right questions. A 3 second pause or a shift in the chair can reveal a lot of information. But rare is it that I speak to people who are asking these kinds of questions. We’ve got to do a much better job at prediction and prevention of abuse.

If you don’t believe me, take it from an abuser himself. I recently visited my dad in prison and he had this to say, “Two things shocked me each and every time I abused a victim–How easy it was to get a child to act out sexually and how easy it was to get away with it.” He is absolutely right, to our shame.

Tenancingo: Home Grown Sexual Abusers

Trucking had always been a dream of mine. I’ve always liked operating heavy machinery and traveling, so trucking was a natural fit. I drove truck coast to coast for one year in between college and seminary, while I was still single. My first time across the Rockies was in a bad snow storm. Dropping down a hill in a semi truck from 11,000 feet when it’s hammering snow is quite an experience! What makes it more adventurous is looking down and seeing other tractor trailers that have careened off the interstate to the bottom of ravines from years past. It’s an eerie feeling to see multiple unrecovered trucks at the bottom of a mountain. Once a truck has fallen so far, it’s impossible to tow it back up to the top of a mountain, so many of them end up being left there permanently.

I believe evil is the same way. Once someone has fallen so far down, it becomes impossible to tow them back to the top. I had a Bible professor who has another helpful analogy called the “chained dog” theory. Evil is like a dog that’s chained up. It has boundaries set by God. Evil still exists, but the chain restricts evil’s reach. We can either stay outside of evil’s reach, or we can taunt it and risk it latching on to us and dragging us deeper into its territory. Have any of you ever been to a place that is so dark, you can “feel” the evil?
chained dog

God warned the Israelites, “But be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you. Yet if you persist in doing evil, both you and your king will be swept away” (1 Samuel 12:24-25 NIV). Romans 12:21 says, “Do not be overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good.” The Bible mentions evil and its variants (evils, evildoer, etc.) just shy of 500 times. There is a consistent message throughout the Bible that many Christians deny. . . there is a level of evil that creates a suction point, a trap, a point of no return.

The small town of Tenancingo, Mexico is one of these places. It is the breeding ground for a major pedophile ring and sex trafficking to the United States. Young children are saying that they want to be like their dads and sell women for sex. There is no remorse, and darkness plagues the town. Psychologists are divided on what “makes” a perpetrator act out on very young children. Is it psychological factors, environmental, genetic, addictions to pornography, etc.? To be fair, nobody really knows for sure. If we are honest, we would admit that there are many hidden factors, both in the brain and in the home, that we will probably never figure out as far as causality. But one thing we can probably all agree on is that perpetrators who sexually act out on children are committing an evil. And once you begin messing with the dog, eventually it’s going to bite. And in Tenancingo, the dog has claimed its territory and is dragging people all over the place. I highly recommend watching this documentary on Tanancingo’s trafficking of sex slaves to the US. It is worth every minute.
****WARNING: We need people to watch this and raise awareness that this stuff happens all the time****

So what’s my point? Or rather, what’s God’s point? At the top of the list, remember the old saying, “If you play with fire you’re bound to get burned?” Well, if you play with evil, you’re bound to get bit. According to Scripture, we’ve all done evil. But it’s the perpetual toying with it that leads to the point of no return. There is, however, great news in all of this. For those who struggle with pedophilic thoughts at a younger age, rehabilitation is quite successful. I’d encourage parents who have allegations come against their children to not be so quick to defend them. Rather, get them the help they need.

I’ve received several phone calls with similar scenarios–a 13-15 year old boy was inappropriately saying things, doing things, or was infatuated with young children. And in all the cases (so far), the parents or guardians defended the perpetrator, not the alleged victims. Folks, if you see your child getting too close to a chained dog, don’t tell everyone else to buzz off. Help pull your child from that evil. Seek professional guidance from a sex-specific therapist. Help your child get out before it is too late. The more children learn to keep this a secret, the more they will be emboldened to act out. Help them get out. Help them find a way to deal with their attraction and aggression toward younger children. Love does not defend evil. It helps pull people from it before they become so debased that they cannot stop.

Survivor of Abuse Posts Her Call to Abuser

A 28 year old woman, a survivor of child sex abuse, posted a video to Youtube of her calling her abuser. She did it because she feared that the statutes of limitation would prevent the abuser from paying for the crimes. First of all, praise God that she found the courage to do this, and to show her face publicly. This video will hopefully embolden other survivors to tell their stories of abuse and to report it. Only about 25% of child sex abuse survivors will ever tell anyone that they have been sexually abused. Other studies show that this number is probably generous. The majority of abuse survivors take that secret to their grave.

I’ll post the video at the bottom of this blog. The ridiculous comments people leave behind are not surprising to me: “Get over it. . .it happened 16 years ago,” “move on. . .” etc. Isn’t that the perception many people have? And isn’t this attitude precisely why children are afraid to tell anyone? Imagine–you’re 3 years old and finally get the courage to tell someone that your uncle has been caressing your body parts with his tongue. The reply is, “Just get over it.” “Move on.” Fear is the number one reason children don’t tell. Fear that nobody will believe them. Fear that they will be punished for telling. Fear that telling will cause a divorce. Fear that the public will find out that they have been molested. Fear that they will have to go to trial and face their abuser. You get the picture.

I’ve heard people ask survivors why they waited so long to tell someone. It’s usually framed in an accusatory question like, “If the abuse was really as bad as you say, why would you wait until you were all grown up to say something about it?” Says the person who was never sexually assaulted as a child. Interestingly, pedophiles commonly use the same argument but with a different agenda. It goes something like this: “If she really didn’t like it, she would have told me to stop.” Says the person who threatened the child that if he tells, something bad will happen to him or his family.

At any rate, I commend this woman who got the courage to call her abuser and I get why it took so long. We all should get it. It is more common than not for those who do report to do it years after the abuse occurred. I know of victims who were ridiculed by families or churches for reporting abuse because “you’re smearing “so-and-so’s” good name. Really? We can and need to do better than this for survivors of abuse.

And one piece of advice–don’t feel sympathy for abusers because they “were born that way” or “just couldn’t help themselves.” This video grabbed my attention and the abuser’s response is typical of pedophiles who are initially questioned for their crimes.

Caller: “I was only 12 years old when I met you. Do you realize that you brainwashed me and manipulated me and that what you did was wrong?”
Abuser: “Yes. And I regret it.”
Caller: “Are you doing this to other students too?”
Abuser: “No.”

Interviews with convicted child molesters reveal that they know that it is terribly wrong but they abuse anyway. Is the regret genuine? Possibly. But regret doesn’t stop someone from abusing, or from continuing to abuse. Is she telling the truth that she is not doing this to other students? It’s doubtful. There are a wide variety of statistics on how many victims a pedophile may have in his or her lifetime–with some being over 1,000 (that’s individual children per 1 abuser; this does not count how many instances of abuse there were, which could be a few thousand). Dr. Gene Abel did a couple studies and found that convicted pedophiles who were questioned averaged 73 victims each. United Youth Security estimated 260 victims each. You will find similar high numbers, and the scope of this particular blog is not to discuss the reasons why this range is all over the place. But there is one thing that is consistent: no matter how many abusers initially claim that they only have one victim, when further investigated it is revealed that there are almost always multiple victims.

Proverbs 24:24-25 (ESV) says, “Whoever says to the wicked, ‘You are in the right,’ will be cursed by peoples, abhorred by nations, but those who rebuke the wicked will have delight, and a good blessing will come upon them.”

Corey Feldman, Hollywood, and Pedophilia

It came as no surprise at all when I saw news articles recently come out outlining Corey Feldman’s new book, Coreyography, revealing Corey was molested as a child. Corey describes the grooming process, how he was made to believe it was his fault, and how he was told that the sexual encounters were what “normal people do.” All of these things are stripped right from the same playbook of pedophiles. Having a very broken home life with drug-addicted parents, Corey was primed, as currently are millions of other children in this nation, to be a vulnerable target for abuse. Yes–sexual abuse of minors is even in Hollywood.

Corey believes that pedophilia is a huge problem in Hollywood, and that it is everywhere else too. He says, ” I think there’s a lot more of it than we’d like to believe and a lot more of it in all paths of life. The world is a very, very dark place right now. Right now, more than any other time in the history of mankind we need to have spirituality in our lives, we need to believe in a higher power and stay positive no matter what.” 1. Apparently, experts conclude that pedophiles are a bigger problem in Hollywood than in Corey’s day.2.

I would agree, too. Statistics show it is true. But so does experience. Recently, I met and prayed with a Christian man dying of AIDS who was from West Hollywood. I asked if I could ask him very pointed questions about life as a gay man, and he was very open and honest. What he described sounded more like a horror flick than reality. At the age of 49, he had outlived every one of his friends. Every single one. As a paramedic, he described routine calls for overdoses and suicide attempts in the San Fernando Valley, the porn production capitol of the world. His patients for those types of calls were almost exclusively porn actors. But he also told me something that had struck a nerve with me. He said, “Jimmy, all you hear about is the glamor of the gay lifestyle. As one who lived my whole life in this community, there are things that go on that you wouldn’t believe. And child molestation is wildly out of control here.” Before anyone rushes to blast me, these are not my words. I passed no judgment on my friend. I simply let him tell his story. As a man who was, for years, sodomized by his biological father when he was a young boy, he had the authority to speak on the subject.

Child pornography and pedophilia are everywhere. On lunch break today, the local news had a story of young minors who posted hardcore nude pictures on a pornographic website because their boyfriends told them to. Ironically my own website, which tries to combat child sex abuse, is bombarded daily with traffic from people seeking child porn. Just today the top searches which led people to this very site are “child sex site,” “very young teen hardcore porn,” and “pinay child phonography.” I know what you’re thinking, “What is pinay child phonography?” Pinay is a slang word meaning a Filipina girl but it’s also slang used to describe the most beautiful kind of girl alive. Phonography has appeared almost daily as a search term and is an intentional misspelling of pornography to sort of “fly under the radar” of illegally searching for child porn.

The bad news is that this is a pandemic. Corey Feldman is right that there is a lot more going on “than we’d like to believe.” That’s just it. We don’t want to believe it. So we deny. And the more quiet we are, the more enabled abusers are. It’s also bad news that the majority of abuse is not reported. And the majority of the abuse that is reported never gets investigated. Corey experienced this in December 1993 when he reported the abuse to the Santa Barbara Sheriffs department and they never investigated.3. I experienced it last year when I turned in a prominent person in the churches by handing over files of explicit pictures and comments posted online with young children, only to be told that there was not enough evidence. This happens all the time and it needs to change.

The good news is that more and more people are speaking out about abuse. Where it was taboo in the past, it is slowly gaining attention today. And it’s not just a fringe group quietly typing away at the keyboard. I’m encouraged by the people who have contacted me privately to join forces, who have their own books and websites to specifically educate others and speak out. I’m encouraged by people like Corey Feldman who take an unpopular approach and risk their careers to speak out. I’m encouraged by people like Alison Arngrim, who played Nellie Oleson on Little House on the Prairie, who is speaking out about her sexual abuse as a child. And I’m encouraged by Jaycee Lee Dugard and Elizabeth Smart who were brave enough to recount their horrible kidnappings and rapes from men who stole their innocence. I’m encouraged by former porn stars, prostitutes, and strippers who now have thriving ministries to help rescue women from the industry who’ve never known anything but abuse and exploitation. I’m encouraged by the National Child Protection Training Center for the war they have waged on abuse. And on and on it goes.

Finally, I’m encouraged by my readers who read these blogs, pray, and comment. This is not easy stuff to talk about or read about. But you all do it. And so we press on. “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise” (Psalm 51:17 ESV).

When Boundaries Fail, Part 3

security-cameras-over-fence-mounted-steel-barbed-wire-30665401 I could write a lot more on boundaries–don’t even get me started about church leaders and school teachers texting their students! But I decided that today I would write to the countless people who have either failed to set proper boundaries, or their boundaries were still violated and their children were sexually abused. There are over 40 million survivors of child sex abuse in the U.S. alone. Obviously there has been a major breakdown somewhere. My wife and my biggest fear is that boundaries we have set will be overridden by a predator and our child will be molested. Without instilling fear into my readers, the reality is that it happens every day, thousands of times a day.

Should boundaries be crossed to the point of your child being abused, I offer some guidelines to help you through the trauma (and it is very traumatic).

#1 Never be Arrogant or Naïve Enough to Believe That Your Child Cannot be Sexually Abused
James 4:7 (ESV) says, “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” I just read an excellent article titled What Should You Do if You’re Threatened by a Mass Murderer?. It spells out places mass murderers inevitably target: places that offer little or no resistance. These places are specifically targeted by murderers for a reason–they can easily gain access, they can easily kill (young children are statistically the most targeted because they cannot physically defend themselves), and they can sometimes easily escape. Places that offer resistance (i.e. places with armed guards or armed permit-holding citizens) are rarely targeted. Why? Because they are actively resisting evil. It’s tough for a coward to get through armed guards in order to kill, so most likely he won’t.

Also be aware that over 60% of sexual molesters live under the same roof as their victims. This is most likely because there is easy, unhindered access to victims. We must be vigilant even in our own homes and be open to the possibility that spouses or children my suffer with pedophilic attraction to young children.

I’ve said before that sexual predators, like water, find the path of least resistance. It’s time we all stand together and be guards who are armed with knowledge and boldness. Resist. Make it tough for someone to gain access to your child. At the same time, we have to be open to the possibility that our children, even with safeguards in place, could still be victimized, which leads me to:

#2 Talk Openly With Your Children About Their Bodies and Always Listen
Our daughter is 3. Their brains can only comprehend so much. Talk with your children, at their level, about privacy with their bodies. And ALWAYS let your children know that they can talk to you about ANYTHING, and that they will not be in trouble for telling you. Just last night, my precious wife had a mother-to-daughter talk and told our daughter, Eden, “You know that nobody is ever allowed to touch you down there, right? But if anyone ever does, you need to tell mommy or daddy right away. You won’t ever be in trouble for telling us.”

This is extremely important. Eden knows that (1)her body is private and is off limits for anyone to touch in certain places and (2)if anyone ever does (God forbid!), she can tell mommy or daddy without getting in trouble. Victims are most often groomed and framed by perpetrators to believe that the abuse was the child’s fault. Why is this important? Because it guarantees silence! Children will often be told something like this: “You came on to me. I didn’t want this but you turned me on. If you ever tell I’ll let everyone know that you initiated it.” Children believe this because they are highly susceptible to suggestion, gullible and, by nature, are trusting of every adult. A child who believes that the abuse is his or her fault needs, needs, needs reinforcement by their parents that, should abuse happen, it is never their fault and they will not be in trouble for telling.

Strangely, we don’t hesitate to teach children fire drills, tornado drills, gymnasium safety, etc., but when it comes to teaching them sexual abuse safety, we clam up. And predators know it!

Furthermore, a child needs a stable, peaceful home in order to tell. It takes extreme courage and heroism for a child to tell an adult about abuse. If a child lives in a home where mom and dad are constantly shouting, blaming, and accusing one another or their children, a child will likely never tell their parents if abuse has happened. This is because they associate telling with yelling, screaming, and finger pointing. A child who’s been told by a perpetrator that the abuse is her fault will only be afraid of further rejection if they believe a parent will agree, which leads me to:

#3 The Three Most Important Words a Child Who Discloses Abuse Can Hear Is: “I Believe You”
It was the day before my dad’s sentencing in 2012. I was asked by a friend to do a training for his staff on child abuse. After my presentation, several young ladies came to talk to me. One young woman came to me in tears and told me that she, as a child, had told her mom about her dad sexually abusing her. Her mom didn’t believe her and actually yelled at her for “lying.” How, pray tell, will children ever trust anyone to protect them if their own mothers accuse them of lying?

I’m tired of reading accounts where children who are repeatedly abused by the same perpetrator, say to themselves, “I’ll just initiate this (sex) and get it over with.” No child should have to feel that he should endure abuse because nobody will believe him if he tells. If a child discloses abuse, don’t probe, don’t blow up, don’t tell them you’ll kill their abuser, and don’t tell them that they must be mistaken. Do, for the sake of your child, be calm. Do tell them that you believe them. Do tell them that you will do everything in your power to keep them safe. And do report it to the police for investigation.

#4 Churches Should be a Place of Peace and Refuge
I was at a training workshop on abuse and heard stories of children who, after disclosing abuse, were forced to stand before their abuser and forgive him “because the Bible says if you don’t you won’t be forgiven.” Forgiven for what? That very statement suggests that the child did something wrong. And who in their right mind would force a child to stare their abuser in the eye and utter the words, “I forgive you.” I’ll tell you who–the person who has never been abused and has no idea, and doesn’t care to know what it is like, to be sexually humiliated as a child.

It’s troubling to hear all the stories of children who are forced to be put on the stand and relive their abuse to a group of strangers. It’s humiliating. Devastating. What’s worse is hearing all the stories of prosecutors who lament that, more often than not, it is the perpetrators, not the victims, who have teams of people in the courtrooms to support them. Churches are not exempt. What in God’s name do you think it does to young children’s souls when they see people who show up to support their abuser? I beg you to watch this 6 minute clip and listen to the voice of a victim’s mother who just went through this. A Rose City, MI teacher who raped a male student had 6 colleagues write letters of leniency to the judge because “it did no harm to the child.”

As a minister, I loudly and publicly tell my congregation that abuse will not be tolerated whatsoever. Our church will be a place of refuge, not turmoil for children. I want children who may have been abused, or who may one day be, know that we will stand beside them. They can trust us. They can tell us. They will never have to face their abuser and they will never be shamed by their church family because of abuse that happened to them. And finally:

#5 Don’t Get Trapped in the Past
When I found out how many victims my dad had, what their ages were, and some of the details of what he did to them, there are no words to describe the sense of guilt I carried. How did I not see it? What could I have done differently? Why did I fail? How could I be so naïve? I felt a huge burden for what had happened, and I understand that many parents whose boundaries have failed never can move beyond the guilt. How did I let this happen to my baby? How can God forgive me? What if I had been more bold? What if I knew more about abuse? How could I be so trusting?

The devil will gain a huge foothold over your life if you live in the past. The best thing you can do for your child who has been abused is to first forgive yourself and then to focus on protecting and healing your child. Children who see a parent who feels constant remorse and guilt will sometimes feel guilty for ever having told. They do not need to carry that added burden.

No More Mr. Nice Guy: Jesus and Children

It’s a scripture that many avoid. We don’t want to believe that Jesus would utter violent words, so when he does we pretend like he didn’t really say them. But what if we took seriously Jesus defense of children? What if churches were willing to go to war for the protection of the kids who were in their care? Jesus is often painted as a fuzzy, cuddly kind of guy who was always soft spoken–a pacifist who turned to the other cheek at all costs, even the cross.

But the reality is that Jesus sheds his nice-guy persona when children are willfully led into darkness. Listen to his words: “He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said, ‘I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes a little child in my name welcomes me. But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea‘” (Matthew 18:2-6 NIV). I’m not arguing that Jesus was talking about vigilante justice here. Rather, he is talking about the justice of God. Over and over again Jesus talks about judgment, exclusion from the Kingdom, and torment with weeping and gnashing of teeth. God does not smile at abusers, pat them on the head, and say, “There, there, my unfaithful servant. Just try harder next time.” And neither does Jesus.

In fact, it is not often that we find Jesus visibly upset. But when children are involved, the gloves come off. The word for “to become angry at” is only used once of Jesus, and it appears in Mark 10:14: “People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant” (Mark 10:13-14 NIV). Jesus then rebuked his disciples and took the kids in his arms to bless them. But only after he tells them that anyone who doesn’t receive the kingdom of God like a kid will never make it there. An angry Jesus. A Jesus who says a person would be better off to have death by drowning than to cause a kid to sin. In other words, “You think that downing was bad? You haven’t seen anything yet!” Let that sink in for a minute.

After conducting a workshop on child abuse, a young woman came up to me in tears. “I tried telling my mom that dad sexually abused me. She told me that I probably just imagined it. A few years later I got the strength to talk to someone at church about it. I was told that the Bible says to forgive and I need to move on. How can I trust anyone anymore? Doesn’t God care that he did this to me? I don’t even know if I believe in God anymore.”

When our response to abuse is a pacifist view, and when children are told to “just get over it” or to “learn to forgive like the Bible says,” I wonder if some of the wrath of God will not be reserved for them as well. I know–but their intentions were good. They didn’t mean to harm a kid by telling them those things. But guess what? They did. The last time I read my Bible cover to cover, I failed to find where people are rocket launched to heaven for having good intentions. We Christians are just as likely to “cause one of these little ones to sin” as the abuser if we give them a picture of God as someone who couldn’t care less about their abuse. And pulling scriptures out of context in order to not have to face an uncomfortable conversation is no excuse for damaging children’s eternal souls.

I’m just thinking out loud, but perhaps we should tell our sons and daughters, our children in the pews, our students in the schoolroom that we’d be damned (literally) if we would ever intentionally allow someone to harm them. I go out of my way to tell my 3 year old daughter that I will always try to protect her and that if anyone ever does something to hurt her she can always tell her mom or me. Kids should feel protected. They were designed by a Creator to feel safe and secure in a stable home. They shouldn’t have to fear that if they tell mom and dad about something bad that happened, they will get in trouble or be ignored. One night as I was putting my daughter to bed she said, “Dad, you make me feel safe.”

We exchanged “I love you”-s and as I walked out of her room I fell apart. I cried as I thought about the countless children who feel abandoned rather than safe. It’s time to take a closer look at the anger of Jesus and live in His shadow.