Spiritual implications of sexual abuse in the local church, Christian community

Spiritual implications of sexual abuse in the local church, Christian community

By Michael Bozeman, M.A.C.E., MA, LPC
Special to The Alabama Baptist

The enemy has won many victories through sexual abuse in the local church. When one is abused by someone who is an authority figure the ramifications are detrimental. I believe it is even more detrimental when the authority uses the name of Christ to carry out the abuse. There is no doubt it leaves an altered perception of the truth in the mind and heart of the victim.  

Hope of healing

Such abuse can leave one with a great sense of betrayal, confusion, guilt and vulnerability. The loss of trust and security will be hurdles that the victim will struggle to overcome. The loss of fellowship that was once prevalent in their life seems to be ripped away. 

It is easy for the victim to question God on why He would allow a church leader to hurt them. Through this abuse the idea of church and one’s relationship with Christ no doubt comes into question.  

The great news for any victim is that Jesus offers the hope of healing through even the toughest situations. Psalm 147:3 reminds us God heals the broken-hearted and binds their wounds. 

It is so important that the abused seek help from those who will point them to the truth. Since the abuse came at the hands of one meant to protect and nurture, this process can be lengthy. 

Over the course of time the hope is the abused can come to an understanding that the actions of their abuser were wicked and not that of a man or woman of God. The abuser used their status or position to manipulate and to selfishly gratify their own sinful desires. The Bible speaks directly to this: “For all that is in the world — the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life — is not from the Father but is from the world” (1 John 2:16).

For the abused moving forward can be a tough process. The great news of the gospel is that it brings hope to all situations. The love that Christ has for His children is even more prevalent in tough times. The Word promises in James 4 that if we draw near to the Lord He will draw near to us. As the enemy tries his best to continue to take victory through such a tough situation, the truth will cast light into that darkness and offer a place of rest and healing.  

Isaiah 41:10 promises, “fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” These promises give any child of God, no matter their circumstance or situation, assurance they do not have to struggle alone. God has an unbelievable love for His children and will walk with them through even the toughest of circumstances.  

The church should be a safe place for all who enter the doors. When the enemy uses church leaders to bring shame on the name of Christ through their actions, the fallout can be monumental. 

Trusting Him

Abuse in the church brings reproach on the name of Christ and has ramifications felt by the abused for years. The church has an opportunity and responsibility to victims of sexual abuse — to be ready to walk alongside them, love them well, hurt with them and be Christ’s hands and feet in the healing process. 

Walking in and believing the truth of Christ will cast out the deceptions and lies set forth by the enemy. 

Christ is present in all situations and we can trust Him no matter what our circumstances. 1 Peter 5:7 reminds us to cast all our anxieties on Christ because He cares for each of us personally. 

EDITOR’S NOTE — Faith & Family is a monthly look at important spiritual, cultural and relational issues facing today’s families. 

For more articles on contemporary topics like these go to PathwaysProfessional.org/blog. 

Michael Bozeman is a licensed professional counselor serving in central and northeast Alabama for Pathways Professional Counseling, a sister ministry of Alabama Baptist Children’s Homes & Family Ministries.