One common technique that we see abusers and their flying monkeys use is minimization. These are the people who in the face of inconvertible evidence will state that whatever the abuser did, “It was not that bad”, “a mistake”, “the first time anything like that ever happened”. This is used to rush to normalcy and to avoid far more difficult and ugly conversations.
This is not new. I Corinthians 5:1-8 outlines something similar, not outright abuse, but rather the behavior that many youth organizations, churches and families will employ. Very often forgiveness is the very first thing that is offered before the depths of an individual’s depravity are known, before the other survivors come forward. When they do often their voice is silenced because the group has already “moved on” and the offender is already forgiven.
Not so fast. Let’s take a look at I Corinthians 5:1-2 again. Paul is not praising the Corinthians for their forgiveness. He is excoriating them for their tolerance! Today when an organization tolerates like the Corinthian church did, they go beyond what hardened criminals in our prison system will tolerate. In our correctional system sexual offenders are placed in specific populations for their safety. However, in our organizations, families, and churches we celebrate our “forgiveness” of such a person and invite them in the presence of those that are similar to or the very ones that they have offended previously. This is backwards.
This is not to say that the blood of Christ cannot cover the sins of those who repent of sexual offenses committed against children. That repentance must be a full reckoning of their deeds, independently verified if they have been incarcerated. They must understand that their crime involves a tremendous amount of deception if they are unwilling to truthfully disclose their deeds, it is likely a ruse and attempt to regain access to other individuals. Then special measures can be taken to ensure the spiritual growth of the individual, but it should not involve unfettered access as it did previously.
As we observe the #meetoo, #churchtoo, #familytoo events going on in our society today there are many attempts by those accused to minimize and move on. Unfortunately, many of these minimize to move on and offend again. What is truly going on is a request for tolerance that does not even occur in the U.S. prison system. We must be far more mindful of the degree to which offenders will use their craft of deception even when apparently caught. We need to be the good watchmen.