There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
Silence continues to be the single most common method of dealing with intrafamilial abuse.
And even if you dare to expose the truth and seek help, there is none. I researched for months the possible resources available to our family in the wake of Asher’s arrest. There are websites and groups designed to provide support for female survivors of childhood abuse. There are websites and groups designed to provide support for male survivors of childhood abuse. There are websites and groups designed to provide support for families struggling through the tragedy of abuse within a faith community – especially when their allegations go unheard or unheeded. There are websites and groups designed to provide support for men and women coming out of trafficking, the adult film industry, and prostitution. There are entire churches whose mission, or significant ministry, is to care for the fragile people broken down by sexual assault associated with pornography, sex addiction, and involuntary prostitution.
And I am glad these exist! We must be willing to see hurting people first and foremost as people regardless of the wounds they carry. Jesus never shied away from the people who were “too” sick, or “too” ugly, or whose lives were “too” impacted by sin.
So the elephant in the room seems to be: why aren’t there support groups or websites designed to assist the family dealing with sexual abuse between siblings? To be fair, there are a tiny handful of pseudo-helpful discussion forums that make a showing of offering help to incest survivors. And SIA (Survivors of Incest Anonymous) offers a limited number of meeting locations throughout the world as well as a few call-in meetings. But even these continue to assume the help is only needed for the adult survivor and not a supportive/involved family.
And within a conservative faith environment, where a high view of scripture and moral authority exists, the silencing effect of shame is exponentially higher.
Why? Why are the places that view the person of Christ as real the more likely to offer so little encouragement?
I don’t know what the exact answer is, but I can make a rather informed guess. The following is an excerpt from Ralph Venning’s The Sinfulness of Sin:
God is holy, without spot or blemish, or any such thing, without any wrinkle, or anything like it, as they also that are in Christ shall one day be (Ephesians 5.27). He is so holy, that he cannot sin himself, nor be the cause or author of sin in another. He does not command sin to be committed, for to do so would be to cross his nature and will. Nor does he approve of any man’s sin, when it is committed, but hates it with a perfect hatred. He is without iniquity, and of purer eyes than to behold (i.e. approve) iniquity (Habakkuk 1:13).
On the contrary, as God is holy, all holy, only holy, altogether holy, and always holy, so sin is sinful, all sinful, only sinful, altogether sinful, and always sinful (Genesis 6.5). In my flesh, there dwelleth no good thing (Romans 7.18). As in God there is no evil, so in sin there is no good. God is the chiefest of goods and sin is the chiefest of evils. As no good can be compared with God for goodness, so no evil can be compared with sin for evil.
Those with a bent towards conservative or reformed theology will easily agree with the above quotation. We see sin, not in terms of grays that can run fluidly into and out of our lives, but as stark lines of black and white where there is a righteousness of perfection and then everything else. The goal, as Venning himself wrote, is to one day be as, “[Christ] is holy, without spot or blemish, or any such thing, without wrinkle, or anything like it.”
Sin stains. And we don’t like it. We spend our lives trying to remove as much of the effects of sin on our lives as possible. And for good reason! If we are called to be holy as He is holy (1 Peter 1:16), and to put off the old self with its sinful desires (Ephesians 4:22-24), and innumerable other scriptures that clearly point to our need to separate ourselves from sin, then getting involved in “speaking the shameful things done in secret” (Ephesians 5:12) clearly has no place in God-fearing, bible-believing churches.
I get it. Honestly, it was not just external fear of judgment and shame that tempted us to be quiet in the early days. It was our own buy-in of the idea that speaking this detestable thing into the open would somehow make it darker, uglier, and therefore allow its stain to permeate us even more.
However, that’s not consistent with God’s word. And we must always be more in love with the Word of God than with our understanding of it.
- Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. (Ephesians 5:11)
- The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:5)
- But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:7-9)
Can we see? We have nothing to fear in bringing the darkest, deepest, ugliest parts of our lives to the Great Physician. His light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it!