Monday, June 13, 2011

Confessions

There is a group amongst us who have become the new lepers. Unwelcome anywhere, branded by all, and vilified as the worst amongst us. Many are forced to live under bridges and overpasses because they have been chased out of their neighborhoods. Friends and family will refuse them. They do have a terrible disease, and it is not an easy disease to cure. Yet these people are still people, and their need for love is no less than yours or mine. If anything, their need is greater yet. These people are child molesters.

It might seem odd that I would be defending them. I was molested as a child, and I know all too well the emotional, mental, and physical damage done by such abuse. I still feel some of the effects of that abuse, and I still struggle to overcome. It might seem that I should be the first in line to hate these people, to want to chase them from my midst. However, I tell you that I have made efforts to reach out to my stepfather and forgive him for what he has done. My heart breaks for the plight of those who have been branded a molester and cast out of society as hopeless. This compassion comes because the only thing between me and their fate is the fact that no one ever caught me.

I was once a child molester. The first instance occurred when I was four years old. Not too coincidentally, it is also the age at which my stepfather began molesting me. It might be easy for some to brush this off as innocent demonstrations of affection, but I can assure you that as young as I was there was a very real sexual content to what I did to them.

It grew worse as I grew older, as the abuse that I suffered at home became more pronounced and went deeper. Any little boy that I fancied was in grave danger of losing his innocence around me, of being shown something no child should know. At 6, I was teaching the boys in my neighborhood how to french kiss and at 11, I lost my virginity to a boy only a few months older than I was. It was not his idea, but mine.

This behavior was fueled by a misunderstanding about the nature of love. I wanted to be loved, and I wanted to love, but the only thing I had been taught about how to love a member of the opposite sex was through sexual contact. Though sex wasn't what I really wanted, it made me feel beautiful to feel wanted and was a temporary band-aid on my very deeply wounded self-esteem. The problem was that every time I did this it ended up only making me feel worse about myself because somewhere inside me I knew what I was doing wasn't right.

I did choose victims that were close to my own age, and as I grew older my victims did, too. But that didn't make what I did any better. I endangered countless numbers of souls with my behavior, not to mention my own, and led these children into temptation beyond their years. As an adult, when in person, my only sexual dalliances were with other adults but online it was different. I was careless about asking for age when engaging in sexual role play. I know for a fact that at least two of them were under age when we began such things. In one instance, it didn't stay online either.

You might ask me what cured me of this, what stops me from being a danger to the young men in my life. I will answer you that it was the love of Christ that healed me of the wounds that led me to such behavior. Christ taught me what real love looked like. Christ helped me to realize that true love for another seeks only their highest good and will not sacrifice the good of another to satisfy a personal vanity. Christ helped me to see that I was twisting these boys as I had once been twisted, and leaving behind me a wake of destruction.

Someone who molests children is sick, just as a leper is sick. They need help to see that what they are doing is harmful. They need help to find the love which they lack so that they no longer need to seek it in the most innocent and helpless. They need that kind of Christian love that is not afraid to face them with the consequences of their choices but will provide them a better way, a healthier way, of relating to others. I agree that they do need a time of isolation while this help is provided to them, and that some may be more easily healed than others. This disease is a kind of sexual addiction, and the resistance to its temptations is usually something that must be built up over time, through daily resistance.

Something must be done about those who molest children. That much is true. But what we are doing now is not helping anyone. Their sin is terrible, their crime is great, but I think it is too easy for us to vilify them and absolve ourselves of sin. How many of us are guilty of allowing our children to be mentally molested by watching sexually explicit or provocative shows? How many of us allow our children to watch shows where every teenage party is unsupervised and contains underage drinking and sex? How many of us allow our children to dress in revealing clothing entirely inappropriate for their age? When we do these things we are allowing our children to be mentally molested and they will pass on to other children the things that we have allowed them to be taught. Our society grows sicker by the day. Child molesters are just the easiest symptom to see, and the easiest to blame.

Popular Posts