Children, Sexual Assault & Judgment

Written by Allan Erickson on June 1, 2023

The Greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven — Matthew 18:1-14

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. 3 And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me. 6 If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”

According to Jesus Christ, children who believe in Him are the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, dearly loved by the Father, and precious in His sight. If anyone causes these children harm, if anyone leads them astray, if anyone abuses them or encourages them to sin, such people are condemned by their own evil behavior, so much so, “it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”

The Lord does not mince words or sugar-coat them. Why then do we accommodate in any way the mistreatment of women and children at the hands of sexual predators? Why do pastors recommend women stay in abusive marriages? Why do church leaders give convicted pedophiles favorable treatment?

Throughout the world, children are kidnapped every hour, abused every minute, harmed in atrocious ways every second, by the millions. They experience unspeakable, lifelong suffering. What is the response of the world? For the most part, we see yawning indifference, active satanic participation, and denial. Abused children are usually ignored when they suffer abuse and plead for help. As a result, the vast majority of pedophiles are never caught.

Among the most grievous offenses: child sexual abuse within the Church. When Jesus orders the final trumpet blast, the lake of fire will be filled with people bearing millstones around their necks, many of them crying: “Wait! Wait! Didn’t we prophecy in your name?!” For many decades we have read about such abuse throughout the Protestant and Catholic worlds.* The secular school system is also riddled with abuse.*

So-called Christians who turn a blind eye will be held guilty. One must see the evil clearly, and act against it forcefully. Among the most clear-eyed warriors in this hour: Jim Caviezel. His new movie, “Sound of Freedom,” is a true story that details efforts to save children from sex traffickers. It opens July 4. Caviezel reports that 2 million children are sold into sex slavery every year. Will we hear their cries for help, and act, or kick back, beer in hand?

And what of children abused by churchgoers and clergy? Do we realize that thousands of children are molested and raped every year? Do we understand the nature of the problem and react rightly? Do we understand how children are scarred for life by such horrendous treatment? Do we take into consideration the harm that radiates out for every incident of assault? Do we consider the mileage and leveraged gained by the enemy of our souls every time a child is abused and the response is silence?

What about efforts to minister to victims and simultaneously offer restoration to pedophiles? Are we responding rightly to cries for help or do we spiritualize it, saying prayer alone will solve the problem? Are we content to allow child sacrifice rather than speak up and intervene? Do we lose sight of the victims in our haste to redeem pedophiles, most of them disinterested in redemption? Do we actually allow the promotion of their sin through various channels by our sloth and indifference?! Meanwhile, sex scandals in churches proliferate.

Time and again we hear reports of abuse throughout churches including the Southern Baptist Convention* and in John MacArthur’s church. Sex scandals have rocked the biggest Christian college in the world: Liberty University. This week it was reported a convicted pedophile was found in an official capacity with the TPUSA national pastors’ conference. (It is worth noting that TPUSA is one of the loudest voices against mainstreaming pedophilia. Is it any wonder the organization is being condemned and accused of catering to a pedophile during the TPUSA pastors’ conference last week?)

Like the Catholic response, many play hide and seek with the truth or blame shift or supercharge denial. While the world and the devil work to mainstream pedophilia, the church often helps that campaign by running from the truth, or compromising, or both. Much of the church’s weakness comes from naiveté.

Most experts in the field agree with the FBI’s assessment of possible success in rehabilitating pedophiles:

“According to an FBI profile, pedophiles are incurable, promiscuous, predatory, and have a high recidivism rate.”

Furthermore, abusers are wickedly crafty, manipulative, and deceptive.

“The Abel and Harlow study revealed that 93% of sex offenders describe themselves as religious and that this category of offender may be the most dangerous. Other studies have found that sexual abusers within faith communities have more victims and younger victims.”

Elsewhere it is reported that the probability of recidivism increases through time.

Therefore, clean living for a time is no assurance an offender is cured, quite the opposite.
Not knowing what to do, leaders often resort to doing nothing. That posture often allows the abuser to escape accountability while victims are pushed to the shadows. To cater to the offender to the detriment of the victim is compounding the crime. It is a betrayal of the worst kind.

So many well-intentioned leaders get caught in a trap of the devil’s making. In their effort to hold offenders accountable and minister to victims, they bite off more than they can chew. When they cannot be all things to all people they circle the wagons, hoping all will fade away, but matters only get worse. Secrecy and dishonesty ensue, victims are neglected, abusers are ignored, or rewarded! Sometimes predators are allowed to rejoin churches, and even appointed to leadership positions!

Pedophiles are wolves in sheep’s clothing. They are usually unapologetic predators. Most often they are without conscience. The Good Shepherd drives them out for they have crossed the point of no return. God may forgive some who are truly repentant, but the rest are self-condemning, destined for the millstone.

It ought to strike deep fear in our hearts if we continue to fail in the battle against pedophiles — those who do not repent, but search for opportunities to exploit and destroy these little ones called greatest in the kingdom of Heaven by the Most High.

[More insight from Scripture: Leviticus 18, Deuteronomy 22, 1 Corinthians 5]

*Additional sources:

Catholic Sexual Abuse
Sexual violence reports rise drastically at schools, Education Department data shows
Southern Baptist members detail alleged grooming, sexual misconduct among clergy in new report
How the Southern Baptist Convention covered up its widespread sexual abuse scandal

Allan Erickson
Allan Erickson---Christian, husband, father, journalist, businessman, screenwriter, and author of The Cross & the Constitution in the Age of Incoherence, Tate Publishing, 2012.