Many people think the middle of the road is a comfortable place to walk, but let me tell you, in polarizing conversations, where many assume extreme positions, balance often draws fire from both sides. I have friends and followers from many walks of life who hold widely varied opinions, and I don’t expect many of you to agree with me. I do not apologize for what I express if you disagree; still, I hope to present my thoughts in such a way that you can at least understand where I’m coming from.
By and large, this post is addressed to Christian circles and will be peppered with Bible verses to support what I assert, though I hope others will hear what I have to say as well.
A little over a week ago, a story broke in the news that brought a heinous and long-hidden sin to light. In my opinion, the organization that covered the story is hardly reputable, but within hours the main players stepped forward and issued statements confirming it.
When I first read the story, I didn’t have time to really articulate my thoughts, so I posted an article on Facebook with a quote about the parents’ and a police officers’ failure to report the crime immediately and expressed my anger and sickness over it, along with a brief call to action. When I returned to Facebook several hours lately, I had been both publicly and privately reprimanded for my words, and of course, there were hosts of other opinions in my social media streams. Then, as the weekend progressed, these opinions started cropping up in offline conversations, and by the time Monday rolled around, I was feeling alone, and frankly, depressed. I wasn’t going to be heard without being made to feel bad about myself, so I decided to avoid the topic altogether.
But in my quiet times with God this week, it just kept coming up. Finally, this morning I just asked God to give me His heart and His words on this topic.
I don’t know the motivation of the person(s) who tipped of the magazine: perhaps it was to discredit this well-known family, perhaps it was not.
I don’t think it matters.
Regardless of motivation, I firmly believe that God orchestrated this exposure. Yes, I just said that God wanted this to come out. (You okay over there? You’re looking a little red in the face). The God of the Bible intends those of us who are His children (as this family testifies to be) to live lives of light, not darkness and secrecy.
“I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness” (John 12:46).
“The reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth” (John 18:37).
“Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible – and everything that is illuminated becomes a light” (Ephesians 5:11-13).
Those who argue that this only came out as a result of a petty vendetta are blatantly ignoring that God’s fingerprints are all over it.
I also believe God brought this sin into the light because He is a God of justice. Now let me clarify my view of justice for those who may not be aware: I do not believe God’s justice is about giving people what’s coming to them – no, God’s justice is about making things right. In exposing this sin, God is saying He wants to make it right for the victims, for the perpetrator, and for the parents.
The victims? I can tell you from personal experience, not only did they not have a choice in what happened to them, they didn’t have a choice in how it was handled. They didn’t get to choose their level of interaction with the perpetrator after the fact, nor did they choose how they were treated or by whom. Someone argued that these young women chose to have their names redacted from official documents, but I’ll counter until the day I die that doing something because you think (or have been told) you should is absolutely not the same as choosing to do it. In my spirit, I know that God has opened this up again for the healing of the victims.
There’s been a lot of speculation about why the perpetrator did what he did. Again, motivation is less than important here: what the perpetrator did was wrong. In my opinion, he did not receive the right consequences (as set up in the laws of this country) at the time, and since the statute of limitations has expired, I believe whatever fallout comes from this revelation now is appropriate. (Are you sure you’re okay? I swear there’s steam coming out of your ears.) I imagine the perpetrator lives with a lot of guilt that he may be able to deal with more openly now, and I declare with many others, God wants to heal him, too.
The parents are the hard ones for me. I cannot imagine why any parent would jeopardize the safety of certain children in favor of another. Then I read their statement and the statements of those who defend them and see (in essence) that they did what they thought was best. According to the police officer involved, when they eventually followed the right avenue in dealing with their son (sort of), they lied. In fact, it seems as more and more comes to light, they have actively buried the truth. It makes me wonder if they did this in their own home, if they silenced the ones who needed to talk about it, perhaps in the name of forgiveness. Everything about this situation screams reliance on self-wisdom and fear, and yes, we have all made critical errors in judgment as a result. So, along with the consequences that are sure to come with this, I believe God wants to change these parents’ hearts from poor judgment and fear to His wisdom and faith in His goodness, and in so doing, heal them.
“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows” (Galatians 6:7).
“It is from the LORD that one gets justice” (Proverbs 29:26).
“What does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8).
To me, the only good thing about this situation is that it has been brought to light, and that now, there can really be justice for everyone involved.
Many of you know that because of my personal history with physical and emotional abuse, I now advocate for those who cannot speak up for themselves (Proverbs 31:8). I believe this advocacy comes from the heart of God, and I will continue to publicly stand with and for all abuse victims by proclaiming His heart for justice (or right healing).
“Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will bring justice to the nations…A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice; he will not falter or be discouraged until he establishes justice on earth” (Isaiah 42:1, 3-4a).
“The Spirit of the LORD is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free” (Luke 4:18).
“But to you who fear my name, the Son of Justice will rise with healing in his wings. And you will go out and frolic like well-fed calves” (Malachi 4:2).
The perpetrator and his parents have had a platform for years, and are more than capable of speaking up for themselves. While I pray for changed hearts, they do not need my defense. They are in the hands of a good God, and we would do well not to try and short-circuit the work He is doing.
“Blessed is the one whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty. For He wounds, but He also binds up; He injures, but His hands also heal” (Job 5:17-18).
“We have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best, but God disciplines us for our own good, in order that we may share in His holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. Make level paths for your feet, so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed” (Hebrews 12:9-13).
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).
There can be no healing without exposure. For anybody. We would do well to remember that before jumping to hasty conclusions based on limited understanding. Especially those of us who claim Christ (the one who will not falter until justice is established) in our lives.
“Everything exposed by the light becomes visible – and everything that is illuminated becomes a light” (Ephesians 5:13).