Jesus loved people. . . enough to offend them at times. Sometimes he name-called. He liked to use the word “hypocrites” for religious people who treated others poorly. One time, after calling a group of people “hypocrites,” Jesus’ followers said, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?” (Matt. 15:12 ESV). Did Jesus apologize? Nope! He responds with more name calling. . . “Let them alone; they are blind guides” (Matt. 15:14).
We are a reactive society. When someone is offended, Twitter lights up like a
Christmas Holiday tree, death threats included. Because we are a reactive society, we often become reactive to others’ reactions. I find myself sometimes worrying to the point of paranoia about hurting someone else’s feelings because I don’t want the hassle of being ridiculed or threatened. Blogging about child abuse is difficult. I try very hard not to be offensive or to hurt people’s feelings. But then I remember that Jesus wasn’t concerned with massaging hurting feelings. He was concerned with love, justice, and being a voice for the broken and marginalized–in spite of mobs of people who threatened to imprison or kill him.
I get a lot of people who ask me a lot of questions in a lot of different ways, but essentially most of them boil down to this: “How do I protect my kids from abusers?” In order to answer this question, we must first know something about the abusers. First of all, child sexual abuse is about power and control more than it is about sexual attraction. To be sure, the vast majority of pedophiles have normal adult sexual relationships and only about 7% of pedophiles report being attracted only to children. So begs the question–why do perpetrators risk so much to sexually molest young children when they are also attracted to adults? Why not pursue a sexual relationship with an adult, or have an adult affair, or have sex with adult prostitutes? Granted, there are many factors and many of them are complex, but studies with pedophiles show that the thrill of doing something so out of the ordinary is part of their enjoyment. So is the ability to control and manipulate. Plus children are extremely vulnerable, easy to sexually manipulate, and easy to keep quiet. People with deviant sexual patterns find ways to isolate and victimize children. If we were to oversimplify things for a moment, we could say that deviant thrill seekers find vulnerable people and they attack.
To illustrate this in a visual way, there is a “game” that’s rapidly gaining popularity among teenagers in the streets. You may have heard of it. It’s called Knockout. The idea is for a group of teens to randomly find the most vulnerable person walking on a sidewalk or riding a bike. Whoever sucker punches the person and knocks them out cold (or kills them) is the Knockout King. They target defenseless women, children, and the elderly. There literally are no restrictions on who is targeted. It’s tough to watch, but it is happening and it’s becoming popular:
Child molestation is, in some ways, a lot like the game Knockout. Perpetrators find the most vulnerable kid, groom them, sexually assault them, and move on to their next victim. To make matters worse, many pedophiles are very good at manipulating the feelings of adults and can easily make them feel bad for a number of different things. If you draw boundaries to protect your child from abuse and someone makes you feel bad for that, remember that your goal is not to protect the feelings of others. It’s to protect your child.
If anyone gives you a guilt trip (and they will) for not allowing your child to go on a sleepover, or if someone makes you feel bad for any reason whatsoever, remember that your child is more important than others’ feelings. Predators prey on vulnerable people by acting as if their feelings are hurt. Don’t fall for it. Keep the focus on your child’s well-being. If you begin to soften your approach on setting boundaries for your child, just remember the game Knockout. Let your guard down for a second and someone could eventually swoop in for the sucker punch.
Sometimes protecting your child means that you will offend people. Sometimes other people may have hurt feelings. You may jeopardize relationships or be labeled a whack job. But guess what? God expects us adults to be protectors of children. There is no excuse for negligence. Keep protecting your child and stop worrying about protecting the feelings of others. . . . without guilt.