To fight passivity, we must know what to be aware of what to look out for. Child molesters are master manipulators. Often they also have a group of advocates that surround them as well. These advocates are often very good people who are extremely gullible and are likely too trusting as they won’t verify what they have been told by one who would harm a child. These individuals are the “useful idiots” of a child predator. In order to know what to look for, we need to look for the tactics that the molesters and their advocates use.
One very common tactic used is gaslighting. This tactic gets its name from a 1944 movie “Gaslight” starring Charles Boyer and Ingrid Bergman. In this movie Boyer’s character attempts to drive Bergman’s character insane. The tactic involves modifying evidence or falsifying information to cause one to doubt his or her own recollection of the story.
Compartmentalization of data
Does this sound like something common? Patrick J Kennedy in his book “A Common Struggle” shared some insight to what the late Senator Ted Kennedy, his father and arguably the patriarch of the Kennedy family at that time, had to say when Patrick’s addictions were out of control by his own admission.
“I saw a picture of the car, and I don’t know why they’re making such a a big deal of this. It looked to me like it was only a little fendah bendah.” Patrick Kennedy went on to state, ‘Very old-school. No ‘How are you doing?’ Just “a little fendah bendah” (or, for those not raised in New England, “fender bender”). In fact, that’s pretty much how he suggested I play it with the press and the public.’
Do you see how Ted Kennedy began to frame an event that happened to his adult son? Within a few sentences one can find, denial, minimization, and domination. A narrative was being formulated to put the family as a whole in a good light, but not his son, Patrick’s health. Powerful political families and families down any street in America are professionals at saying nothing.
Saying nothing is passivity in disguise and it is making a mess out of a lot of things including the statistics on child abuse in America today. We must become aware of the tactics that those who would harm our children use or those who would advocate for them. By learning these tactics we become better watchmen.
Imagine you bought a Corvette about 6 months ago. You bought the Z06. Your favorite color on the exterior and interior, this is your dream car. Since you have owned it for six months you are not quite as protective as you were on day one. A friend of yours that has a questionable driving record asks to borrow your car. You agree after some thought, toss him the keys and you see your friend and your ride roll away. He’s your friend right; you’ve known him for years. A few hours later you get a call from your friend, their voice is shaky. He tells you where your car is and that he is ok. Fifteen minutes later you are driving down a street marked as a 20mph zone and you find your Corvette wrapped around a tree, obviously totaled. Your friend is being checked out by the paramedics but is clearly very lucky. There is no way that he was doing anywhere near 20mph. You are grateful he is alive, and well.
Fast-forward eighteen months. Your Corvette is replaced and in the garage. Your friend and you have kept things together. The awkwardness after the wreck is gone and you are enjoying an afternoon watching the game. Before your friend leaves, he asks to borrow your car.
What do you say? Why? A few weeks later you are called out of town for business. You need someone to take you and pick you up from the airport. Do you call that friend or another? While out of town your wife falls ill and you need someone to pick your child up from school. Can you have a clear conscience and have your friend pick your child up from school to be taken home? Are you concerned about the level of responsibility your friend has behind the wheel?
Now for another situation…
You love to go to the gun range; you often go with your son. There is a friend of yours from work that you know enjoys shooting as well. One day in the break room while speaking with your co-worker, you discover that he plans on going to the range over the weekend as well. You like this person so you coordinate times and plan on meeting him at the range.
The day arrives and your son and you drive to the range. While on the way you have the usual conversations reviewing the rules and safety procedures with your son. You get to the range and check in. You and your son go to the bench and begin setting up. The actions on your rifles are open, demonstrating that the chambers are empty and that the rifle is in a condition incapable of being fired as you continue your setup. Your friend arrives and begins to setup next to you. Having never shot with him before, you observe his safety procedures and notice they are different, but he’s a smart guy right?
About thirty minutes have passed. Your son and you are at the bench shooting. Your friend in the station next to you has brought a couple of rifles. He has decided to put the one he is shooting up on the shelf behind all of you and then shoot the other one that he had brought. You observed that your friend had cleared his rifle before he went to put it up so surely the one he was going to get had been cleared before he had brought it to the range right? As you are lining up for a shot down range yourself, right about the time you apply pressure to the trigger you hear a large boom from behind you. Your son and you jump. The range master calls a cease-fire and comes over to see what happened and if everyone is ok. Your friend is clearly embarrassed and you are thankful that the event was not any worse than what it was. Fortunately your friend was following rule #1 and kept the muzzle pointed in a safe direction, but he clearly hadn’t cleared his rifle before he packed it and he did not lock the bolt back otherwise the round he accidentally fired would have been ejected. Thirdly, your friend allowed his finger in the trigger guard before he was ready to place a shot. Everyone that day was very lucky. Your co-worker was asked to leave given his lack of concern for safety. He later called to apologize, and the two of you are still on good terms at work. However, would you ever go shoot with him again?
Both of these situations represent scenarios where someone obviously did something wrong. Both of these scenarios also represent situations that someone may be forgiven, but complete and total trust is likely shattered. If there are folks that we are uncomfortable allowing our loved ones to ride with in an automobile because of their history behind the wheel, are we unforgiving? Similarly, if there are those that we refuse to be around during certain types of recreation, are we unforgiving?
Is forgiveness really the right question? When dealing with those that have abused children or even your child in the past, is it possible to have forgiven them, but not trust them? Is it possible to have forgiven a friend for a car accident and not want to ride with them, or your family or children to ride in a car with them? Is it possible to be able to share a coffee in the break room with a person that you would never go to a gun range with?
If you have ever gone through a foreclosure or bankruptcy, your debt was forgiven. You no longer have to make a payment to the lender once the process is complete; your debt has been forgiven. Is the financial institution unforgiving or do they lack trust if they refuse to service a loan for you a few years after a bankruptcy or foreclosure? The bank isn’t asking for you to start paying the bills you were unable to pay again you were forgiven of that debt, it is simply refusing to take the risk on you again at that time or maybe ever.
We have a great example that was provided to us by the man after God’s own heart to show us the difference between forgiveness and consequences. When we look at 2 Samuel 12:1-15 where Nathan confronted David about his sin with Bathsheba and the murder of Uriah we see this principle. In verses 5 and 6 Nathan has convicted David to anger and then in verse 7 David understands that he is the one he should be angry with based on his actions. In verse 13 after recognizing his sin David was then told that he was forgiven, but that there would be consequences. David was told that the sword would never leave his house and that the child that David attempted to hide would die. It did not take long for God to make good on is promise the death of the child and David’s mourning for his sin and child is described in verses 15 – 23. In 2 Samuel 13 then describes one of many situations where David’s family began dealing with the sword in David’s house.
Those who side with an abuser will often attack a family that is being the good watchman. The weapon of choice that is used is forgiveness, especially if the family keeping their child from an abuser is a Christian family. Know that although David was forgiven he faced several consequences for his sin. One who abuses a child and is caught must understand that forgiveness is possible while enduring consequences.
Taunts and healthy doses of Matthew 18:23-35 end up leaving parents of victims frustrated and discouraged. If we examine what happens in the text though is the text on forgiveness or is it on trust? In the text the king is settling accounts with his servants. The king was merciful to a servant who owed an impossible sum of money to be repaid. That very servant that was forgiven of an impossible debt pursued a fellow servant for a much smaller debt. The servant who had been forgiven of the massive debt was then jailed for failing to be merciful to his fellow servant. Nowhere in the text is there any mention of the king or servant loaning additional funds therefore extending trust.
Even if somebody abuses your child you need to forgive. This is a process that does not happen overnight. By forgiving you release yourself from the bitterness that can eat you up inside. This is also a process that one must guide their child through when the time is right. Forgiveness can happen with or without the offender present. The act of forgiving an offender is more for you than them.
When dealing with the abuse of your child, do not be discouraged by those that align with the one who is an abuser. When Matthew 18:23-35 is used as a weapon, remind yourself of those that you’d never ride in a car with, or do any other activity with. Do you lack forgiveness or do you lack trust? Do not let your guard down because you are afraid of the barbs thrown by those who confuse trust and forgiveness. Your instincts as a watchman are correct. Remember, be the good watchman.
A few weekends back we had a lazy Saturday. After getting some exercise in the morning the goal was to do absolutely nothing. This was refreshing after some long weeks. On this day of laziness while switching through channels we found “Jaws” on a channel, it was at the beginning so we figured why not watch. As we watched I was struck by the internal struggles in the first half of the movie. The first half of “Jaws” is much like what can happen among family or friends should your child be molested. The key relationships to focus on are the mayor and the sheriff. The mayor represents the “bad watchman” and the sheriff represents the “good watchman” found in Ezekiel 33.
In the movie, the predator was a great white shark that was terrorizing Amity island. The shark was deceptive unsuspecting swimmers and boaters would be struck from below and then overtaken by the predator. The people on Amity Island were willing to be in the water. They either had no idea of the danger in the water, or thought that what had happened was a one-time incident. If we compare child sexual predators, what is different? Children are surprised from a situation that they believed was peaceful and calm and then find them in a situation that is anything but peaceful. Naïve parents friends or family think ‘the water’s fine’ and will allow their children around those who have had problems in the past. Just as in the movie, the water may be anything but fine.
The mayor of Amity Island was more concerned with the image of the island and more concerned with what the tourists thought of “his” island. Even though most people in the room could see there was a significant problem, and the mayor could too, he would not admit to or agree to resolve the problem until the public outcry was too great and he had to go along or lose face. The mayor of your family or friendship is the one who always seeks to keep the family or group together regardless of obvious danger. The thought of conflict or separation is something that they cannot handle. They will demand that nothing is wrong or that nothing severe enough occurred until far too many people get hurt.
The sheriff in the movie was a new hire from the New York City police department. Given the transition he thought his job would be less stressful than New York City, the last thing he imagined was that he would have a summer where he had to deal with many deaths. Immediately after the first attack the sheriff declared the cause of death a shark attack. He immediately wanted to close the beaches after and protect the public. Instead, the mayor got in the way and insisted on the beaches remaining open. It took three more attacks before the sheriff would be listened to.
Although situations regarding your family or friends may mirror the cast of characters in “Jaws”, you must remember, you are the sheriff. Unlike the movie, the mayor has no power over you. In the movie, the mayor could have removed the sheriff from the situation. In your situation the sheriff has the power to remove the mayor from the situation. You have the power to “close the beach”, or cut off contact with those who have harmed others or your children previously without getting approval from the mayor.
If you have a situation in your life where you are dealing with a predator, or a mayor that lacks perspective, or both, we hope that you will be the good watchman as you assume the role of sheriff and do right thing for your children.
Any normal parent would not plan on providing opportunity for a child predator. However when the tools of a molester are put into play it is very possible that a parent could be deceived, or let their guard down and become apathetic because of familiarity. Don’t believe that you are not capable of providing opportunity, the statistics show that you do.
Opportunity: a set of circumstances that makes it possible to do something.
As parents we must be aware that there are those who are seeking opportunities to do a child harm. As the watchmen of our families, we must not provide the opportunity for the children in our care to be harmed.
I Peter 5:8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
Opportunity is something that a predator will create. Almost everything in their world is built to create deniability or sympathy. A predator will often be the person that many often feel sorry for. This is a state that is manufactured to be a defense mechanism by playing on others sympathy. Or, if the person genuinely does have a difficult life for whatever reason, they will use their situation as a way to escape prosecution. This technique is especially effective when the predator knows the victim, thus the predator knows or is family with the parents of the victim. We have all seen the news stories with neighbors, co-workers, and family members in disbelief when being interviewed on the arrest of a “pillar of the community”, “patriarch of the family”, or “anchor within the congregation”. This is by design. This is exactly how the average predator has had anywhere from fifty to one hundred fifty victims before being caught depending on the offenders preferences.
As watchmen we must be like the Men of Issachar found in I Chronicles 12:32. The men of Issachar were ‘aware of the times’. We must be aware of the threats to our families and take the appropriate action to eliminate opportunities for our children to be harmed. As parents we must examine the reason why some might have access to our children. Then there should be a very small list of individuals that are allowed access to your children unsupervised. Any individual who is able to have access to your child either supervised or unsupervised must always display integrity and transparency.
Opportunity is something that a predator will create through dishonesty. Has anyone in your circle of friends or family been caught in a lie yet continued to try to convince you that the lie was truth? Has anyone in that same group ever kept anything from you that as a parent you wish you would have known and thought that they would have known to tell you? These types of situations can end up being character flaws. At the very least you should consider the level of access that they have to your children. If they get a significant amount of access, perhaps the level of access that they have should be reduced. Just because someone is known to be less than truthful does not mean that they will molest or allow the molestation of your child. It does however bring into question if you will get the truth regarding what happened with your child while in their care. Since deception is one of the tools in the molester’s toolbox, and deception can create opportunity, every person with access to your child must display incredible integrity.
Opportunity can also be created through a parent’s apathy. A parent that is not diligent when their family is incapable of telling the truth creates opportunity. There are many ways that a parent can inadvertently create opportunity for a predator. Parents can be too loyal to their own parents, in-laws or siblings. Parents can also be too loyal to their church thus being apathetic towards their children. This is not an anti church or anti Christian statement, but rather a call for parents to use their own brain rather than the collective thinking of others who are not responsible for your children. (I Tim 5:8) Opportunity is access. Opportunity is time and place with your child. Opportunity is a situation that does not “sound” bad or compromising. Opportunity is a parent not doing their homework, not asking the difficult questions. Opportunity is what is used by those who would want to do your children harm. Be the good watchman.
When we look at the abuse of children and the use of deception to manipulate the child and then the abuser or the abusers advocate will then encourage deception. Deception in fact is the number one tool in the toolbox of a child molester. Molesters will deceive the adults responsible for the child to gain access, deceive the child, and then deceive other adults to have them stand up for the molester. What does the Bible say about deception? When a family member, even a parent asks us to cover the abuse of any child up no matter how insignificant it seemed, we have examples in the Bible regarding deception and why we should avoid it.
In order to deceive at least one lie must be told, but often in the case of child molestation there is a web of lies created to create a scenario of trust. That web of lies is used to create disbelief should the molester be caught. To begin lets define what a lie is. Webster defines a lie as 1) to make an untrue statement with intent to deceive or 2) to create a false or misleading impression.
Cain and Abel
Gen 4:8 Cain spoke to Abel his brother.[d] And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him. 9 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” 10 And the Lord said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground.
Cain implemented definition one listed above in the definition of a lie. God himself then called him on his lie.
Joshua 7:1 But the people of Israel broke faith in regard to the devoted things, for Achan the son of Carmi, son of Zabdi, son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took some of the devoted things. And the anger of the Lord burned against the people of Israel.
Joshua 7:22-23 22 So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran to the tent; and behold, it was hidden in his tent with the silver underneath. 23 And they took them out of the tent and brought them to Joshua and to all the people of Israel. And they laid them down before the Lord.
Achan implemented definition two of the definition of a lie. He took what he was not to take and then hid it in his tent. The casual observer would have had no idea what was in the tent from the outside it probably looked very normal. When the messengers that Joshua sent to the tent went in they found what was hidden inside and underneath.
David, Bathsheba and Uriah
We know about David and Bathsheba and how that was wrong, let’s look at what was done by David to attempt to cover up his sin.
2 Samuel 11: 6 So David sent word to Joab, “Send me Uriah the Hittite.” And Joab sent Uriah to David.
2 Samulel 11:9 But Uriah slept at the door of the king’s house with all the servants of his lord, and did not go down to his house. 10 When they told David, “Uriah did not go down to his house,”
2 Samuel 11:14 In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it by the hand of Uriah. 15 In the letter he wrote, “Set Uriah in the forefront of the hardest fighting, and then draw back from him, that he may be struck down, and die.”
David tried to use definition two. He attempted to have Uriah be with his wife to cover the pregnancy. Uriah’s faithfulness caused him to deliver the orders that were David’s second more direct way of covering his sin and cost Uriah his life.
Ananias and Sapphira
Acts 5:1 But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, 2 and with his wife’s knowledge he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a part of it and laid it at the apostles’ feet.
Ananias and Sapphira used both definitions of a lie. Ananias laid part of the proceeds of the sale of his land at the apostles feet to make it appear as if it was the entire sum of money from the transaction. Therefore appearing as if he had done something that he had not. Sapphira came in three hours later and was asked directly if the offering that was made was the sum of the transaction and stated that the sum of money was the entire amount from the sale of their land.
Amnon and Tamar
2 Samuel 13
2 Samuel 13: 20 And her brother Absalom said to her, “Has Amnon your brother been with you? Now hold your peace, my sister. He is your brother; do not take this to heart.” So Tamar lived, a desolate woman, in her brother Absalom’s house. 21 When King David heard of all these things, he was very angry.
Absolom told Tamar to keep quiet, and “not to take this to heart”, and David although angry did nothing and almost lost his kingdom as a result. Both David and Absolom thought it best to implement Webster’s definition two regarding Tamar. Although David had already done plenty to cause issues in his family, not directly dealing with the issue which likely caused Absolom to take matters in his own hands. Absolom’s reaction to his sister which was to “hold your peace” and “not take this to heart”, or act as if nothing happened, no big deal. In today’s terms, “let’s keep this between us”, or “your *insert family relation here* can’t handle this we need to keep this quiet.” Or “they’ve had a hard time of it, let’s not make it more difficult for them.” 
When we look at the two ways to handle the abuse of a child in your care, the old way and the new way, there is an obvious compare and contrast between those who deceived and how God viewed the deception based on the outcome of the situations. When the old way is employed, deception continues and the value of the victim is diminished, when the new way is employed, the actions one would take are the opposite of the examples that we have in scripture who deceived. We are called to expose unfruitful works in Ephesians 5:11-13, covering up the abuse of any child especially your own is certainly taking part in an unfruitful work. Exposing the evil that was done removes the forced silence, which is a barrier to healing. This is where Ezekiel 33:1-6 comes in to play. We are to be the good watchmen; if we are not, then what happens is on our hands. As leaders of our home we are to provide physically (shelter, monetarily, and security), and spiritually to those under our roof. I Tim 5:8. Decide which watchman you will be.
 Justin and Lindsey Holcomb, Rid of My Disgrace