Sexual Abusers: Abusers And True Repentance

Originally posted in September, 2011.

Many who suffer with a mental illness arrived at that place in their lives due to some type of  past sexual abuse.  This article, written by Philip Monroe, who has a blog listed here, tackles a very delicate topic.  I chose to print this article with two things in mind.  1)  For the well being of the victim by not rushing in and offering forgiveness where the fruits of true repentance don’t exist.  2)  To remind us that the worst of sinners can be forgiven.

In no way is this article intended to be a means to cause any condemnation to victims of abuse.  Nor is it intended to create any pressure to make a huge decision you aren’t comfortable with.

I pray that God would use this article to work out His perfect will for those who have been victimized and also for the victimizer.  Allan

 

As a psychologist and seminary professor, I frequently entertain questions about the timeline for forgiveness and reconciliation in situations of domestic or familial sexual abuse. Most frequently, church leaders want to know when it is appropriate to encourage a victim of abuse to allow an offender back into the home or life.

These questions sometimes originate for quite different reasons. Some ask due to fear that once abuser and victim are separated, reconciliation is made much more unlikely. Others ask because it seems that the abuser is not being forgiven in a timely manner. Still others want to know how to discern whether the abusive person is genuinely repentant. It is this last question that I think merits the most attention. How do you know when an abusive person is adequately repentant, and therefore, capable of providing a safe environment for others to live in? The answer, of course, is found in the fruit they produce.

Honest admission.

When God’s people encounter his holiness, they often fall on their faces and admit the state of their soul (e.g., Moses, Isaiah, Paul). They make no pretense of being clean and they do not look to excuse their behavior or blame others (“I might be 60% responsible, but she’s responsible too.”). They do not attempt to manage their image as Saul did when confronted by Samuel (1 Samuel 15:14f). In appropriate settings they willingly reveal secret sins that had not been known. This honesty should be permanent rather than temporary. If another should bring up their sins decades later, they should be capable of admitting what is true without defensiveness or undue shame.

Does the abuser:

openly acknowledge abusive behavior and its impact on the victim?

accept full responsibility for actions without excuse?

accept the consequences of the abuse without demand for trust or forgiveness?

Sacrificial efforts to repair.

The story of  Zacchaeus provides a wonderful illustration of the fruit of repentance in the life of a man who profited by abusing others with his power. He does not shy away from the sniggering comments of others, but publicly promises to pay back all he has cheated plus four times more (probably twice as much as the Law required!). Not only that, but he willingly gives half of his wealth to feed the poor.

Jesus describes the kingdom of God as having so much worth that a true disciple joyfully gives all to acquire it (Matthew 13:44-46). The repentant abuser sees the value of restoration and joyfully gives all to obtain it. He no longer sees his rights as something to hold on to, but immediately thinks of how he can sacrificially put the interests of others before his own. Further, he does not demand acknowledgment of this sacrificial effort to undo the wrong done. Sadly, the opposite fruit seems more prevalent. The abuser strives to protect personal interests (e.g., an unwillingness to pay for counseling costs of the victim), attempts to compromise (I’ll pay for counseling if you won’t report the abuse to the authorities), or uses children to gain leverage (the children will be hurt if I am out of the home)

Does the abuser:

spontaneously seek to make restitution (not penance!) or to offer economic support without demand for things in return?

give physical and emotional space for the victim to receive help from others?

Accepts and flourishes under discipline.

When caught in abusive or addictive behavior, individuals commonly make immediate changes in their behavior. They stop certain problematic behaviors and start healthier ones (e.g., returns to church, reads the Bible, goes to counseling). We commend these behaviors. However, Jesus warns the disciples (Matthew 12-13; the story of the house swept clean and the parable of the soils) about the problem of reading initial reactions to the Gospel. Time and cultivation are required. The repentant abuser willingly submits to the loving discipline of the Church. When adequate ministry to him is not available, he pursues it until he finds it. He does not demand time limits or the entitlement to be forgiven. He accepts the intrusion of accountability partners and sees their work not as police work, but as discipleship.

Does the abuser:

accept the ministry of discipline, accountability, counseling, etc. with joy?

acknowledge that the fruit of change takes time to develop and so sees discipleship as a lifetime project?

show evidence of a growing life of prayer, reading of the Word and increasing measure of the fruits of the Spirit?

Be careful.

A word of caution to those whose job it is to assess the level of change in an abuser. There are two errors we must avoid. It is easy to classify abusers as subhuman and unable to ever change. If we fall into this error, we may be tempted to prejudge their ability to change, thereby encouraging greater defensiveness on their part. The power of the cross changes the worst of sinners (including ourselves). These men and women deserve God’s grace as much as any. The second error is that of being thrown off by external issues that may not have much to do with repentance. Those who are charming and well-spoken (especially those who use spiritual language) may tempt you to ignore fruit that is inconsistent with repentance. Also, when victims are less likable due to their own interpersonal demeanor, it is tempting to excuse abusive behavior.

It is wise to seek supervision during this process and to remember that you participate in the Lord’s work and that He will accomplish refinement in his children, including you!
Philip Monroe, PsyD., is Associate Professor of Counseling and Psychology and the Director of the MA in Counseling Program at Biblical Seminary in Hatfield, Pennsylvania. He is also a licensed psychologist and practicing counselor.

A Few Thoughts On Today’s Tragedy At Ohio State University

Today was like any other day. I woke up and a little later turned on the news. CNN and Fox were breaking a story of some sort of attack at the school that had sent 11 people to the hospital and the culprit killed by police before he could do any more harm.

The networks were slow in giving out information as rushing to get the scoop often leads to erroneous reporting. I’m sure we’ll get more specific information as the investigation continues.

We pray for those who were injured as well as for their friends and families.

There were many other victims today that you may never read about and I’d like to talk about them a little bit. I’ll start with the witnesses of this senseless act. I’ll also add the countless number of students who were on lock down not quite knowing what had happened. I’m sure many of them were fearing for their lives. I’ll include the first responders who rush towards danger not knowing what they’ll encounter. All of these individuals were quite aware of crimes like this taking place on college campuses and other schools in the not so distant past.

Once today’s events at OSU had been brought under control the networks got back to other stories. In time today’s episode will be but a memory as other stories will replace them.

Having posted about so many tragedies through the years be it earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis, and so many senseless acts of violence I always think about the victims we typically never hear about but whose lives have been traumatized.

We all know the term Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome and quite often associate it with our brave soldiers who selflessly serve our nation. Yet there are scores of others who are impacted by this illness. Below is an excerpt from the link above that adds to the definition.

“Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that’s triggered by a terrifying event — either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event.

Many people who go through traumatic events have difficulty adjusting and coping for a while, but they don’t have PTSD — with time and good self-care, they usually get better. But if the symptoms get worse or last for months or even years and interfere with your functioning, you may have PTSD.”

 The above describes various groups of people. Rape victims, automobile accident victims, robbery victims, victims of natural disasters, and many other traumatizing events.
The above list also includes those at OSU that I mentioned above. There will be those who will develop PTSD as a result of what took place today. Our minds simply aren’t wired for such trauma. That’s why there will be counseling made available for those impacted today.
Professionals know from past events what to expect and they’ll do all they can to get help for those who request it. My mind turns to those who were already dealing with a mental illness who were impacted today. What happened may have been enough to trigger them into a very difficult place.
Maybe you’ve been traumatized but due to stigma or something else you haven’t come forward for help. This could be your time as help is available.
God’s love for us is unconditional. He does not see us as weak, faithless, or backslidden because we suffer in our minds. Below are a few links for you to look at.
Do you have a trusted friend who will listen to you share your pain?  Call them.
Do you have a trusted person on staff at church you can trust to speak with you without casting judgment?  Make an appointment.
There are times we might need professional counseling. Maybe that’s a route for you.
Finally and maybe most importantly read promises to us from God’s word. So many of us feel His promises aren’t for us. They are. Below is the truth for each of us.
Matthew 10: 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. 30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

Kanye’s Mental Health Struggles????

I’m not one to listen to the music that Kanye West has done during his career. I pretty much listen to the oldies from the 50’s- 70’s as well as my Christian music that includes a ton of praise & worship.

I’m also not interested in the goings on of the Kardashian’s. Their lifestyles have no interest for me.

I would guess there are many who totally loathe Kim and Kanye for any number of reasons. At the same time they have legions of fans that follow them closely. One only needs a basic awareness of the media to know this.

In the last several weeks it appears that Kanye has had some serious issues taking place in his life as evidenced for all to see and hear on social media.

It’s well known he has been hospitalized with what some describe as exhaustion. Other unconfirmed reports indicate he is suffering from paranoia and depression.

Paranoia and depression catch my eye because those two words are part of the mental illness world. I can relate to the depression but not so much the paranoia. But I know these things are real.

Kim and Kanye may represent what many see as the antithesis of Christianity. Some may see them as enemies.

How do we as Christians respond when we read about the place Kanye finds himself in?  It’s impossible for us to pray for everyone and everything especially when we know nothing of the party(s) involved.

But if you are aware of Kanye West maybe you might find a second to say a quick prayer for him.

Romans 5:6 For we yet being without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
Romans 5:7 For one will with difficulty die for a righteous one, yet perhaps one would even dare to die for a good one.
Romans 5:8 But God commends His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.
Romans 5:9 Much more then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.
Romans 5:10 For if when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.

Been Posting A Bit Lately

Within the past week I decided to post some stuff. Lots of music and a few articles. I’m not sure where this will go as far as the future but for now I will be posting although I’m not sure how often.

Even though I’ve been away for a time I do check in to see what activity is taking place. That includes visitors, number of views, the number of countries that are represented each day and what people are looking at.

The two most popular topics are 1) Karen Carpenter and her story of anorexia and 2) Martin Luther on Depression. PBS has been running the story of the Carpenters quite a bit. Especially during their fund raising. When that happens I see a huge increase on views for Karen.

On the Martin Luther on Depression I have noticed that there is a large % of people that arrive from Facebook. How and why that happens I haven’t a clue.

I’ve never been overly concerned about drawing a large audience here. My desire is that God would touch one person and anything after that is a bonus. That has happened in the past eight years and I’m thankful for that.

As I’m not a computer genius I am having trouble doing things that others do routinely. I’m slow on the uptake to be honest.

I’ve had struggles the past few years that took me to difficult places and I realize that’s part of the Christian life. God has done some personal work in my life that I’m grateful for.  I’ve learned that even though I’m 62 God still has plans for me. I don’t know what they are but I’m alive for a reason.

I know a lot of people are struggling with mental illness now more than ever. Things taking place in the world and the polarization of our nation has served as a trigger for many who may read this. There’s a lot of fear mongering going on and it only serves to make things worse for many.

At the same time stigma is alive and well and Christians are still impacted by it either from the church or friends and family. Thankfully inroads are being made but progress is slow.

God’s promises are for us just as much as anyone else!  He has promised to never leave or forsake us. Yet He never promised us a life free from struggles. Believe me I refused to accept that for a long time as I felt God owed me certain things.

If you’re a believer living with mental illness or love someone who is living with mental illness and your faith in God is still there, even if it’s a small spark, then I want you to know there’s more. I still have days where I need to remember this. The battle doesn’t simply disappear for many of us while others see great progress.

This time of year is difficult for many of us for various reasons. We all need hope and a deeply personal understanding of how God sees us as His children.

I’m not sure what is ahead for this blog. There are many wonderful blogs out there for you to draw encouragement and hope from.

Finally if you are not a Christian you are welcome here to read, post, and take advantage of any resources that interest you. I have pages at the top of the blog that outline how I do things here if you’re interested. Allan Adams  AKA  Erunner.

 

Streams In The Desert: November 25th, 2016

Take the arrows… Smite upon the ground. And he smote twice and stayed. And the man of God was wroth with him, and said, Thou shouldest have smitten five or six times (2 Kings 13:18, 19).

How striking and eloquent the message of these words! Jehoash thought he had done very well when he duplicated and triplicated what to him was certainly an extraordinary act of faith. But the Lord and the prophet were bitterly disappointed because he had stopped half way.

He got something. He got much. He got exactly what he believed for in the final test, but he did not get all that the prophet meant and the Lord wanted to bestow. He missed much of the meaning of the promise and the fullness of the blessing. He got something better than the human, but he did not get God’s best.

Beloved, how solemn is the application! How heartsearching the message of God to us! How important that we should learn to pray through! Shall we claim all the fullness of the promise and all the possibilities of believing prayer?
A. B. Simpson

“Unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Eph. 3:20).

There is no other such piling up of words in Paul’s writings as these, “exceeding abundantly above all,” and each word is packed with infinite love and power to “do” for His praying saints. There is one limitation, “according to the power that worketh in us.” He will do just as much for us as we let Him do in us. The power that saved us, washed us with His own blood, filled us with might by His Spirit, kept us in manifold temptations, will work for us, meeting every emergency, every crisis, every circumstance, and every adversary.
The Alliance

Loving Cowper Like Newton Did… Affirming Those With Mental Illness In the Church. A Guest Post From Cash

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Cash is one of the first to write for this blog many years ago. I’m happy to see he is still writing. Allan

William Cowper was born in England in 1731 and died there in 1800. His mother died when William was six years old, and this tragic loss affected him until the end of his life. After her death, William’s father sent him to private schools, where he studied until he was seventeen.

He was a prolific hymn writer and poet, and is regarded as one of Great Britain’s greatest poets.

He wrote the well known hymn “There Is a Fountain Filled with Blood,” and created the expression, “God moves in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform.”

But that is only part of what makes Cowper’s life so noteworthy. What’s remarkable is that God used this man in such a way despite the man’s troubled and tortured mind, for William Cowper suffered from severe mental illness. Despairing of his very life, Cowper even tried to commit suicide several times and was admitted to a mental asylum, which is where he found Christ. His life did change after his salvation, but his bouts with mental illness continued to torment him for the rest of his life. There were many times he thought his soul was damned, though he was a Calvinist, for he could not see His Savior’s grace for himself.He became a close friend of former slave ship Captain turned minister John Newton, the author of “Amazing Grace.” Newton was a true friend and pastor to Cowper and the two wrote a book of hymns together, know as “The Olney Hymns,” named after the town where the two men lived.

In 1780 Newton moved from Olney for a new ministry in London, where he served for the next 27 years. He did not forget his friendship with Cowper, and the two continued their correspondence through letters.

They remained close friends until Cowper’s death in 1800. There is no evidence Newton ever chastised Cowper for his infirmities. John Newton accepted and loved Cowper as he was, warts and all. More than a pastor, Newton was kind and patient with his friend.

What lessons can we learn from the lives of William Cowper and John Newton?

What would your reaction have been to a man like Cowper suffering from such deep mental illness? So deep the person was suicidal and attempted suicide? Would you befriend him and accept him, as Newton did, or shun him as unvaluable to the Body of Christ? Would you advise him to just read his Bible more and pray more believing these things would take the mental illness away?

Do you see mentally ill people as valuable to the Body of Christ? Paul gives us an insight in 1 Cor. 12:21-26, where he speaks of the weaker parts of the body as having greater honor.

Do you struggle with mental illness yourself? God sees you as very valuable to Him. His plan for you includes this illness He has allowed you to struggle with. Yes, God can heal us, but He doesn’t always do so as we all know.

Those who are mentally ill are full members of the body if they have believed, and can be used greatly by God to “confound the wise.” I Cor. 1:27. William Cowper was an example of this. Do we really accept people with these infirmities, as Newton did, or do we see them as just another chore we have to put up with?

The next time you deal with a mentally ill person, you might be talking to another William Cowper.