How can the church respond redemptively to the sexual abuse crisis?

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In We Too: How the Church Can Respond Redemptively to the Sexual Abuse Crisis, prolific author Mary DeMuth uses Scripture, research, and sexual abuse survivors’ stories—including her own—to call the church into action against the evils of sexual abuse.

Dr. Jim Denison interviewed DeMuth via email. This is their exchange:

Jim Denison: Mary, your story of being sexually abused at the age of five is heartbreaking. When you came to Christ as a teenager, how did the church help you deal with your pain? What could it have done better?

Mary DeMuth: At that point, my connection with church was brand new, so I didn’t initially disclose to my church, as I didn’t know them well. But I did share with my Young Life leaders, and they were amazing. They listened, prayed, and dignified my story. They didn’t shrink away from it. 

I moved away from my first church, and then when I found my second church, there was a barrier in me sharing because my youth pastor was a man, and I didn’t feel comfortable sharing my story with him. If there had been a woman in leadership in that church, I most likely would have talked about it with her.

JD: If you could offer wisdom to pastors and other church leaders reading this article, what would you say to them?

MD: Err on the side of listening, without first formulating a contingency plan in your head. Let the story unfold, offer empathy, and pray. 

If this abuse has happened in the church by a member or volunteer, report the violation to the proper authorities as a mandatory reporter. 

Obviously, fire or let go of anyone who has sexually abused someone else. 

Be honest about what occurred (if it happened related to the church), and if the situation calls for it, have an independent investigation to determine what happened and what you can learn going forward. 

Offer to help survivors. 

Have elders and leaders reassess child protection policies and how you will deal with any…

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Click Read More to read the rest of the story from our content source/partners – Denison Forum.

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