UPDATED! An open letter to Christianity Today & @Leadership_Jnl : TAKE DOWN THE RAPE POST. It’s not an “extramarital relationship.” It’s statutory RAPE. @CTMagazine

UPDATE: Leadership Journal has taken down the post. The CEO of Christianity Today, Int’l has apologized “unreservedly.” You guys, we did it. I am crying SO HARD right now. So much relief. There was a time when women like myself would have been IGNORED forever. But no longer. I am weeping with gratitude and pain and exhaustion. This was a hard battle. Mama Warrior is tired. Thank you to everyone for your support and for making this happen. I love you. I’m with you. I’m going to go take a long nap now.

—————————————————————–

Today I read an article that made me tremble with anger. Written by an anonymous former youth minister now serving a prison sentence, the story details his predatory grooming and eventual rape of a child in his youth group.

Oh, but wait. That’s not how HE tells the story. Oh, no. He tells it as a mournful I’m-sorry-for-my-sins warning about his “RELATIONSHIP” with a young girl who “adored me” (his words). Oh, he’s very clear about taking 100% responsibility for his sins–except he never once admits that sex with a child is RAPE.

Instead, this sterling model of repentance urges his readers to repent if they are involved in similar situations and submit their lives to God. And make it known to “those who need to know.” EXCEPT THE POLICE, OF COURSE. 

Yes, confess that you raped a child to your accountability partner–BUT NEVERMIND SUBMITTING YOURSELF TO THE LAW for the CRIME you committed.

I’m APPALLED that Christianity Today even published this article. What a horrific lapse in judgment. What an irresponsible re-traumatization of the victim, her family and the wife and children involved. Christianity Today should have known better.

Can you imagine the OUTRAGE if a Catholic Priest was allowed to publish an article describing his “relationship” with an “adoring” altar server? And that outrage would be absolutely JUSTIFIED.

Why?

Because a predator loses the right to tell his side of the story right about the time he decides to PREY on a CHILD.

Because the ONLY story that should garner attention is the VICTIM’S story.

Because predators are usually quite good with words–which is exactly HOW they groomed their prey. A predator’s weapon of choice is words. WHY would a Christian publication give him that kind of power again? WHILE HE’S IN JAIL, NO LESS!!!!

Here’s the deal: once you use your freedom to abuse a child? You don’t EVER get to win sympathy points in public–even via a repentant confession.

TRUE confession and amends-making should be done PRIVATELY with the victims. TRUE repentance isn’t about page views via JUICY HEADLINES.

 

Publishing a post on Christianity Today does NOT make amends to the people damaged–it only brings FURTHER attention and adulation to the convicted sex offender.

Please join me in asking Christianity Today to take down the post. We are CHRISTIANS. We give voice to the abused child, NOT the predator. 

  • http://timfall.wordpress.com/ Tim

    When I started as a volunteer in the youth ministry I was 26. One of the first things the youth pastor told me was to be aware that relationships with the youth needed to be proper at all times. I wonder if this anonymous pastor had the same discussion with his youth staff volunteers but failed to follow his own advice. He apparently knew what he was doing was a sin.

    The article is devoid of any mention of how the girl has been affected, though. I don’t think he never mentioned any concern for her or the impact this had on her (or perhaps I just missed that part).

    Did you see that CT has an addendum to the end of the article:

    In response to readers’ concerns, the author of this piece has offered the following clarification: “I recognize that what I initially considered a consensual relationship was actually preying on a minor. Youth pastors who do the same are not “in relationship” but are indeed sexual predators. I take 100 percent of the responsibility for what happened.”


    So he acknowledges that she was his prey, but it’s still not the same as talking about the effect of his actions on her.

    • KatR

      The fact that CT had to go back and add this as an addendum is telling. It was written and published and no one (at least no one with any authority) over there thought how this abuser discussed what he did was problematic. I also have to wonder if CT made any attempt to find out if publishing this article was ok with the survivor, or is going to let HER (or any other person sexually abused by a church leader) have a opportunity to respond on their web page.

      • http://www.elizabethesther.com/ elizabethesther

        EXACTLY. Once again, he is USING her as a prop in HIS story of repentance. Unbelievable. And CT thought this was OK?

        • Hattie

          Tbh.. maybe I need to read it again, but I don’t recall where he “repented”. What I got was:

          “Guys, it was SO HARD for me not to sin.. and now that I’ve sinned things are SO HARD.”

          Also: he never explicitly comes out with the odious “She seduced me!” line, but he DOES appear to view her (a minor, presumably) as being equally responsible.

          Maybe he’ll learn something in prison, who knows.

    • tentativecynic

      “Look, maybe TECHNICALLY it was rape, but I’m just going to still frame everything as if it was a consensual affair, because that’s the only way I can make it about me.”

      • http://www.elizabethesther.com/ elizabethesther

        exactly. ARRRRGHHHH

        • R

          As a male rape victim from when I was a teenager (by an older boy) it took me years to come to terms with what happened and accept that I was actually raped. I spent years wondering if it was my own fault and my mistake that led things to happen.

          The fact that he says he “initially considered [it] a consensual relationship” shows he hasn’t fully accepted that what he did was actually rape.

          I actually had an opportunity to forgive the boy who took advantage of me and he apologized and said he wasn’t trying to hurt me or anything. I don’t know if he has ever understood what he actually did to me. Thankfully, after many years of healing, God has given me peace and freedom from the shame and guilt, but it caused issues for years and almost destroyed my marriage 10 years after the incident!

          While I understand what he’s saying (as warped as it is), i can see that it is coming from the mind of someone still living a lie. I had years of healing to break free from the lies that held me back and I thought some really messed up stuff about myself and others until God set me free.

          I hope he will understand and accept his responsibility, and not just the “oh crap I got caught and I’m sorry” response that he’s showing now, the deeper, fuller acceptance that will take years to come to fruition.

          More importantly, I hope the victim in this is getting the love and support she deserves. I hope she knows that God doesn’t see her any different, she’s not “damaged goods”, it’s not “her fault” that this happened and she didn’t do anything wrong.

          I also hope that his family, his wife and kid(s), are getting loved and supported. The tragedy that will eclipse the actual rape he committed will be if the victim and his family are ostracized and pushed away from the very church family that is supposed to be pulling close and protecting them.

          • ari

            Thank you for sharing. *THIS* is the type of post in CT or by the LJ that could actually help others. Thank you for sharing such pain.

          • http://www.elizabethesther.com/ elizabethesther

            Thank you so much for bravely sharing your story here. As always, readers and commenters often provide so much more insight, experience, and depth to the posts. You did that today. Thank you and much light and continued healing to you….

      • Joykins

        He wasn’t fooling anyone. It’s pretty difficult to be sent to jail for an affair with a consenting adult alone.

    • tulips

      Lolz “Due to being called on my bullshit I reluctantly admit awareness that I am actually serving time in prison for R-A-P-E but still let’s talk about how this is actually about my needs going unmet and probably she was wearing spaghetti straps or something.”

  • http://www.openingthedirtywindow.blogspot.com Hannah Proctor

    THANK YOU! I was so upset when I read that article. Just so vile.

  • Ami

    His sob story at the end (no doubt being mislabeled as a “warning to others”) kills me. He talks about how HE is in jail, how HE hasn’t seen his kids, how HE doesn’t have the love of his wife anymore. Nowhere does he express sorrow at how his actions hurt, shamed, and ruined OTHERS. Does he honestly believe that he’s given up the sin of pride, when all he does is focus on himself, even as he hints at confession?

    • http://www.elizabethesther.com/ elizabethesther

      Yeah, I think that was the most disturbing part: the focus is ALL about him. And I found it additionally disturbing that he tries to play the role of “preacher” by telling out-of-context Bible stories. WE ALL KNOW HOW DAVID SINNED. I don’t need a rapist explaining David & Bathsheba to me. Also, IT’S NOT THE SAME THING. David committed adultery–not raping a CHILD. Good grief.

      • Debbie Jane

        although honestly, from a sociological standpoint, we have just as much reason to believe Bathsheba was in the same boat Esther was in with Xerxes. He was the King, and he summoned her. What choice did she have? Does that really count as consensual, as adultery? Maybe they knew each other, because of Uriah, but I very much dislike it when people place responsibility on Bathsheba for the situation. Not really the issue here, but just a thought.

        Thanks for your post on this. <3

        • tulips

          Agreed. The power differential re David/Bathsheba can’t be ignored in the story which reads quite literally as “I saw that woman over there and “summoned” her” for some sex. Consensual or otherwise. Because king. And considering it’s a death sentence for her either way (adultery or refuse the king) there is no such thing as meaningful consent in that equation. There is no “we got to know each other and fell into temptation” rhetoric. I actually do think it’s relevant to the article to make that distinction particularly since the rapist is using it himself to normalize his behavior. David, as far as a literal reading supports, raped Bathsheba then murdered her husband to cover it up when she was preggified. We the reading audience don’t ever see him take responsibility for it either.

          • Emilie

            I agree, though I do think David repents way more sincerely than this guy. Pslam 51 shows a genuine understanding that he did wrong and that he accepts God’s rebuke of him. But in any case, the power inequality is evident in both cases and in our society, that inequality makes this a crime. Not “just” a sin, but a crime.

          • americanwoman343

            well,except for that part where he says, “against you only, God, did I sin….” Never liked that part.

          • http://www.joshbarkey.com/ Josh Barkey

            Come on, now. We’re all having a perfectly good time here knowing EXACTLY what’s going on in this guy’s heart, and who the bag guy is in this story. Don’t go muddying the issue by bringing up the whole “David was a raping, murdering dirtbag” thing. Let’s keep it simple, so we all know whom to judge. :-)

          • Hattie

            He gave us six pages of what was going on in his mind. Did you not read them?

            Although it’s true they’ve been edited now, to make them more palatable and repentant-sounding.

            I wonder why that was necessary, since he was clearly SUCH A GREAT GUY.

          • Annapolitan

            Imagine how Mary felt when the Angel Gabriel appeared and announced that she had been selected to be the mother of Jesus. I have Christian friends who insist she had absolute free will to decline this. I don’t agree.

        • Context

          She had a choice. Just like Uriak had a choice to go home and he still acted with honor and slept outside since his men couldn’t go home to their families (and all this he did though drunk). Bathsheba’s actions cannot be excused away by saying she had no choice. The only innocent person in this story is Uriah.

      • Garp

        CT is apparently removing comments they don’t like from the article. I left a comment and it is gone, and I didn’t write anything offensive or use bad language or anything. CT obviously doesn’t know what rape or child abuse is, and they are also showing zero integrity by removing comments that they don’t agree with. I hope someone can take screen shots of the comments before they are being removed so they can show that comments are being removed. I wrote to CT about it and also about the problems of the article as well. I am so outraged that they thought this article was okay to run.

      • Garp

        Update: CT added an editor’s note and updated some of the verbiage of the story. It still makes me want to vomit. Oh, and they don’t explain about the mysterious disappearing comments.

      • http://thehomespunlife.com/ Sisterlisa

        I trust your response to the article. I can’t bring myself to read it.

      • Joshua Rosenkranz

        To say that this is bizarre is an enormous understatement. I actually feel physically ill knowing that Christianity Today actually thought it was a good idea to post this creep’s publicly, it’s unbelievably disgusting. I seriously cannot even comprehend how truly messed up this guy is; for instance, the way he’s comparing this whole debacle to David and Bathsheba…first of all someone needs to deflate this guys ego before his head explodes, David and Bathsheba’s situation was TOTALLY different seeing as how it was over 2000 years ago, David held a pretty big political office (and was not exactly a youth group leader in the slightest) Another thing I can’t help but notice is how he COMPLETELY fails to mention the damage that he’s caused and treats the situation as something totally different…he treats it like he got arrested for public intoxication only focusing on himself because he’s either so pompous that he still, for whatever sick reason, thinks he’s the victim since he mentions that he blamed his own wife for his actions…(does this guy have some sort of exotic mental illness? He’s a kind of special moron if you ask me :P..) Also, I love how he tries to teach everyone a lesson or some sort of unheard moral, and how he’s trying to act like a “fallen hero” if you will, it’s so pathetic and it just highlights how the “bro-culture” is so inept in issues like this and treats sexual sin in general like “every-guy-does-it-and-it-sucks-but-guys-will-be-guys-and-God-forgives-us.” :P I mean for crying out loud….the fact that he even has the audacity to compare himself to a Biblical figure like David (who didn’t rape a child….) is just beyond me, and it just goes to show how much this creep actually cared about other people begin with…I wouldn’t be surprised if this guy has Narcissistic Personality Disorder (Which basically translates to “Psychopathy”) I hope this guy stays in prison for life. Thanks for posting this story, I’ve been out of the loop for a while since summer vacation started.

        • Hattie

          Actually.. I think he gets out next year. :

    • dangjin1

      you obviously didn’t read his words with an open mind and you didn’t read his words at all as he was not acting like a king or someone with spiritual power over another person. but then you all were not there were you?

      you are merely placing your own ideas on a situation you know nothing about. Since CT said they did some editing we do not know which words are actually his yet you all put on your judges hat and start judging and condemning which by the way is disobedience to God’s word.

      so you are no better than he is.

      • http://aimaiameye.blogspot.com/ Aimai

        What a bizarre assertion. Misreading (if that were even the case) a poorly written article by a delusional con man cant ever be just like the seduction and rape of a minor child. There is something truly disturbing about the need of some posters to elide the differences between minor errors and actual crimes. We dont say that addressing an invitation inappropriately is the same as killing someone. We also dont excuse crimes of violence by saying that someone, somewhere, may have had an impure thought. You are ibfuscating the issues and
        Excusing crimes by baselessly accusing others of irrelevant errors.

        This pastor is totally responsible for his own evil actions and for his obvious lack of remorse. The christian philosophy that “the devil made him do it” which he espouses throughout his article is truly disturbing and destructive to any true adult morality.

  • Truthseeker

    YES!!!!!! EE, thank you for this alarming alert. Christianity Today needs to retract and massively apologize, make amends to the victim and family, etc. So should the perp.

  • tentativecynic

    He just wants everyone to know how “easy” it is to “stumble” into the “temptation” of raping teenagers.
    Right.

    • http://www.elizabethesther.com/ elizabethesther

      The title itself is so gross. “My EASY trip…” Yeah, easy for YOU. Awful and hard and terrible for everyone else. Also, it makes me wonder: WHY is it EASY for a youth pastor to become a rapist? Hmmmm. Could it be that churches don’t put enough safeguards in place??? (sorry for my sarcasm, I get REALLY grumpy about stuff like this)

      • Joykins

        Dan Savage has a Youth Pastor Watch feature in his blog; a rundown of youth pastors and sex crimes. No, I don’t think there are enough safeguards…

        • americanwoman343

          That’s because we reward narcissists in ministry.

          • Rachel

            Exactly! The communities see large numbers = increased funds = increased ministry = God’s blessing. Those surrounding the ministry are either unable to see the narcissism or are willing to ignore it as unimportant because they want so badly for it to only be a good thing that they are involved with. The easy justification for ignoring it is, “God wouldn’t bless a sinful ministry.” I think increase in numbers should be a reason to be even more watchful. Humans are attracted to charisma and charisma is often the flip side of narcissism. Pay attention!!

    • tulips

      They prey on the “everyone is a potential rapist/murderer/fallen” angle to excuse themselves as though the general population really has just been straining at our collective leashes while nobly resisting the (succulent apparently?) temptation of child rape. Disgusting. And so wrong. There really needs to be pushback against this sort of rhetoric. We need to straight up say…”No, I strain at the leash not to raise my voice or be negative toward people when I’m frustrated or angry because I represent a typical average functional noncriminal person.” “You, on the other hand, represent a typical average rapist and our temptations are not similar in the slightest snowflake.”

    • Levedi

      Exactly. Isn’t that the excuse we hear over and over? “I stumbled.” No, you didn’t. A person doesn’t accidentally have a consensual adult affair, let alone rape a minor in their care. There’s no repentance here at all.

      • tentativecynic

        What I hated most was the obvious victim-blaming. The constant references to “we” and “us”. How “we” were pulled together by temptation, “we” were sinning, “we” couldn’t break it off even though “we” tried. Everything that screams “this is her fault as much as mine! And probably more!”

        • tulips

          Yes, the constant references to “we” turned my stomach too. Can we include one’s own rape in the list of non “we” appropriate statements like, formally?

        • Lucreza Borgia

          He tripped, fell, and landed in her vagina. Could have happened to anyone *rolls eyes*

          • Hattie

            “Stumbled”

            I do not think it means what you think it means.

  • ari

    It’s disgusting, and part of the victim-blaming “just confess to your accountability partner” BULL SH*T that passes for “rehabilitation” in Christian circles. If he hadn’t been in jail, this letter would probably be from someone BACK IN MINISTRY who stepped down for a while to do some “soul searching” then got his job back, or an even better one after gaining some “wisdom”. Typical abuser – no empathy, total focus on self, still doesn’t get it. What a shame that this rag of a magazine published this. I don’t subscribe to that magazine for a multitude of other reasons, but this just seals the nail in coffin. You’re right, if this were a Catholic priest, it would garner NATIONAL outrage and attention (and rightly so). There needs to be an outcry from Christians. We do not get to operate by a different set of rules when abuse is uncovered. We should not be known for a lack of accountability and re-victimizing the CHILD involved in child sexual abuse. It’s SO enraging.

    (Two typos, in your article, “Because a predator loses the right to tell his side of the {story} right about the time he decides to PREY on a CHILD.” and “Because predators are usually quite good with words–which is exactly HOW {they} groomed their prey.”)

    • http://www.elizabethesther.com/ elizabethesther

      thanks, Ari. I was mad-typing which leads to typos! :) correcting now!

    • Anon

      He is back in ministry :/ It says at the end that he’s “helps lead the Christian community at the facility where he is serving his sentence”.

      • Emilie Bishop

        Great…

      • pragmatic1

        This is surprising? He’ll get out of prison, armed with a “powerful” story of Christ’s redeeming power that he can sell to the next batch of sheeple.

      • Hannah Lewis

        God can use the worst of us. And often does.

  • http://lizboltzranfeld.wordpress.com/ LizBR

    Elizabeth, if you want to avoid giving them additional traffic for this shameful piece, you can replace the link you’re currently using with a http://www.donotlink.com/ URL.

    • Hattie

      That’s a great point. Outrage generates attention.

    • ari

      On the other hand, if everyone who sees how wrong it is says something on their website or writes a letter, maybe they will take it down.

      • http://lizboltzranfeld.wordpress.com/ LizBR

        Do Not Link allows readers to see and respond to the material in every way they normally do, but they don’t get the stats that help them earn more advertising money. It’s a way to interact with the material but not profit off your interaction.

        • Garp

          That is kind of amazing! Thanks for sharing!

    • http://www.elizabethesther.com/ elizabethesther

      I actually WANT them to see the “Outrage Traffic” coming from my site.

      • http://lizboltzranfeld.wordpress.com/ LizBR

        Fair enough! Might be a useful tool in the future nonetheless.

  • falfie4

    First: Obviously it wasn’t a consensual relationship if she pressed charges and put him in jail!!! Seriously??!!!???!!

    Second: So, can we make a petition?? How do we get this taken down?

    • Sam

      The state may have overrides the victim and pressed charges. Or her parents may have done so. Victims groomed like that are often still “in love.” Like I was. And my abuser was never prosecuted.

      • Anon

        I’m sorry this happened to you Sam. My situation is not dissimilar – the story ended before anything sexual happened, fortunately for me. I do think that this guy genuinely believes a lot of what he’s writing, he doesn’t even realise that his own behaviour was rape and the grooming behaviour didn’t necessarily start out with a plan to rape her. That’s exactly why it’s so dangerous to have him back in ministry and publishing this. The child in question probably does feel guilty at her “inappropriate relationship”. I know I do. I made advances, I chased after him, and even now while I know that he was the adult who should NEVER respond to that, I still feel partial responsibility. And I have had many people in church leadership tell me that I have partial responsibility, admitting easily that he was wrong, but reminding me that I was in the wrong too. Until reading this today I never even considered that it might be wrong to believe that.

        • Scarlett

          Anon, I’m going through something very similar, except I’m about 3 weeks further in the process than you are. I just realized that maybe, just maybe, I was abused and not just in an “inappropriate relationship”. I wish you luck in your journey of healing. It’s a tough one, but it’s necessary.

    • Missionarymike

      Easy, go the the Leadership Journal and the Christianity Today Facebook pages and every time the post something leave a comment like this “Take down the post, Leadership Journal and Christianity Today”. Swamp them until they do something. As of right now they are ignoring us and deleting comments but eventually it will catch up to them.

  • Emilie

    Oh, poor baby-man. He didn’t feel appreciated by his wife when she was drowning in child care duties, so of COURSE he’s justified in raping a teen under his spiritual care so he can get his ego back in the stratosphere. I am so tired of hearing Christian men using this as an excuse to be jerks, but as an excuse to commit a crime and victimize a child? Um, no. Don’t in ANY way make this the fault of your wife and family. Don’t make this the fault of anyone except your sorry ego. You deserve what you’re getting and then way more.

    • ari

      Yes. Classic misogynist “theology” coming through – women must satisfy their men , or they’ll cheat, then you’re to blame for the affair* (*or sexual abuse of a minor)

      • Hattie

        Yeah, this guy’s a p.o.s.

      • JAS

        Ari, you hit the nail on the head: the misogynist theology is the reason that “Christian men are failing at an alarming rate”. The crux of it is that if men weren’t taught from an very early age that women are here to serve them(the help-mate BS), submit to them and pleasure them, etc., there wouldn’t be nearly the “failing” that goes on. The misogynist theology goes all the way back to the Garden, that Eve tempted Adam and caused him to fall, Adam not taking responsibility for his actions, and even Paul blaming Eve for her “weakness”….
        As for me, they can take what calls itself Christianity today and shove it, I want no part of it anymore after 35 years of being a 2nd class citizen because I’m a woman in this male, paternalistic dominated religion.

    • americanwoman343

      the thing that is so frustrating to me is that even with all that, he did what “works” in churches and drew a great big crowd! Very discouraging.

      • pragmatic1

        I’ve got a good picture of this guy in my mind…
        Spiky hair, couple tattoos, maybe a piercing, probably played guitar — you know, one of those charasmatic, good looking types who teenagers are drawn too.
        What “works” in church is essentially the same thing that “works” in the world.

        • http://imperfectfornow.blogspot.com/ Mackman

          No! Not spiky hair and guitars! What were those people even thinking!?

          Seriously, dude? You take the legitimate, horrifying issue of child abuse and you show no hesitation at all in lashing your pet cause against “edgy” youth pastors to it. Classy move.

  • http://www.wideopenground.com/ Lana

    This article is disgusting. Who okayed this? There was no “we” who sinned. His victim was a minor and he raped her. she did not sin.

    • ari

      Yes. How are they at CT so BLIND to this fact? Wow.

    • Garp

      I think that is the thing that makes me the most angry.

      • tulips

        Agreed. He sounds like every abuser ever. Completely generic. Who green lighted it at a major publication? How did it get past the editing room?

    • Sarah Hansel

      Agreed. There is no “WE” when the other person was a minor.

  • http://www.wideopenground.com/ Lana

    And what about his victim. If she reads this, she will once again hear about how she sinned when she did not. CT needs to pull this.

    • ari

      YES.

  • Hattie

    Does he ever come out and say, “I abused this person”? From a first cursory reading, I didn’t find where he said that. What I found is:

    “WE were both riddled with guilt and tried to end things, but the allure of sin was strong.”

    “WE had given the devil far more than a foothold and had quenched the Holy Spirit’s prodding so many times, there was little-to-no willpower left.”

    “WE tried to end our involvement with each other many times, but it never lasted.”

    “WE quit so many times, but the tempation of ‘one more time’ proved too strong.”

    This.. would not appear to be an admission of guilt. He’s deflecting. He’s confessing to a bad thing (a consensual affair) to distract everybody from the truly heinous act of abusing a minor.

    I presume she’s a minor, because last I checked you don’t go to prison for having an affair.

    He kind of left that little detail out, didn’t he?

    • ari

      EXACTLY. So enraging.

    • Garp

      I am so infuriated. He clearly does not think he abused her. He never even refers to her as a child, only student. And conveniently, he doesn’t state her actual age.

    • tulips

      Exactly. It is disgusting that he is given a platform to continue to deflect his predation of a child onto the child with a few choice stray bits for his wife on account of not being good enough.
      *spits, gargles, spits again*
      I would sign that petition in a heartbeat. Good for you EE directing attention to this cultural acceptance of child predation as norm.

      • Hattie

        That is the heart of the issue right there. I really don’t expect much in the way of introspection or useful advice from somebody who’s jail for rape. This article is 6 pages of deflection, victim-blaming, self-pity, and Biblical tales. In other words: exactly what you’d expect.

        But what’s so WEIRD about this, is that a Christian source actually gave a child abuser a platform to spill this tripe.

        • tulips

          Sadly, it’s not weird in the sense of being atypical at all. This is rape culture rhetoric. Modesty culture is rape culture.

          • Wakeupcall

            I was going to say, most child molesters will never admit wrong doing, at least in the sense of “I forced my will onto another human being” They didn’t do anything wrong at all. They were just having sex.

    • tentativecynic

      Every single use of “we” is a slap in the victim’s face.

    • dagobarbz

      Men with this attitude should be disposed of quietly, and without sorrow. There is no ‘we’ here.

      He took advantage of a naive child. There is no nobility or spiritual superiority in that.

  • Rebecca Erwin

    AND the afterword byline-Churches, create boundaries BEFORE this happens in your youth group. Again putting the burden on the kids. A girl feels shamed when a youth pastor cannot meet with her in confidence. When an office door is open as she shares her vulnerabilities.

    He was a pride-filled idiot: yes.
    She needed help and empowering.

  • http://somuchshoutingsomuchlaughter.com/ suzannah | the smitten word

    yes, ma’am. bang the drum.

    • http://www.elizabethesther.com/ elizabethesther

      as long as I have YOU banging along with me! :) xo.

  • Christian Feminist

    The only redeeming part of this story is that his wife up and left him and kept the kids safe from him the second she found out. I have known too many women who were too scared to leave or bought into their husband’s manipulative lies. I feel so deeply for her and the victim. I want to believe that after the scandal, both women were comforted by the church community with open arms.

    • Hattie

      Absolutely.

      The perp isn’t exactly helping things along though. What with his “WE sinned” b.s. Hopefully nobody the victim is close to buys into that.

      But the bare fact that this tripe was even published, makes me uneasy.

    • Garp

      Yes! And the fact that he was prosecuted, whoever (the girl’s parent’s?) led that to happen since victims are so often told to keep it a secret so as not to tarnish the church. Ughhhhh.

    • http://www.wideopenground.com/ Lana

      That was my initial reaction too – in the middle of the night at that!

  • Emery

    This story is so disgusting. There are so many aspects that are frustrating. That he deserved more and more praise at home and at work and wasn’t getting what he deserved speaks to a lot of the issues with him, and perhaps from the often misconstrued gender roles within the church. I think patriarchy fuels these needs in men. Also the fact that nowhere in the article does he take responsibility or call it what it was, rape, except as an attached note. The fact that he still manages to attempt to shame his wife in this scenario is disturbing. The fact that he claims that God doesn’t look at sin and therefore God wasn’t with him in those situations… allowing him to quench the spirit. I have some theological issues with that. I am sad that Christianity Today would post this and that they wouldn’t call it rape. Once again this leaves me frustrated with patriarchy and church. I find it really offensive that they would publish this sort as a sermon of sorts. I understand learning from other’s testimonies… but this is not that.
    EE, thank you for bringing this to our attention and for speaking out.

  • http://hopefullyknown.com/ Tamara Rice

    Yes! #TakeDownThatPost

  • Katelyn Beaty

    Thank you for raising these really important concerns about the piece, Elizabeth. As the managing editor of CT print magazine, I just wanted to clarify that CT magazine didn’t publish this piece. Leadership Journal and its editorial team published the piece. CT mag and Leadership are under the same umbrella company but have different mastheads and different editors. We at CT mag have no idea what LJ is going to publish, or who assigns/edits what. Please know that the editors at LJ have been made aware of readers’ concerns. For your and others’ sake, I do hope that they respond.

    • Dave

      Fantastic post! I hope they leave it up & ignore the bile & vile hatred coming from this site & others.

    • http://www.elizabethesther.com/ elizabethesther

      Thanks, Katelyn. I amended the title of this post to include Leadership Journal. But because CT is the parent company and a more widely recognized brand among Christians, I still think it’s fair to call CT to accountability as well.

    • KatR

      I used my CT password to comment on the post. CT’s name appears at the top of the LJ site. CT can’t use it’s name to promote LJ and then wash it’s hands when things go bad.

    • Lucreza Borgia

      You don’t keep track of what someone is going to post under your name? Either you are extremely dense or you are trying to CYA.

    • gimpi1

      Katelyn, if CT is mastering the site, they should stop the dishonest removal of negative comments. If one of your subsidiaries erred in judgment with this story, don’t silence the people calling them, and you, on it.

    • ari

      So what is being done? CT is complicit if their name is on it. Why the silence and comment deleting from CT and LJ?

  • Sarah Hansel

    Thank you for sharing this. While I certainly hope for his restoration (someday), this article disguised as a “confession” should not be public. He is still putting himself on a pedestal and certainly does not grasp the severity of what he did. He writes like a predator! A predator does not deserve a voice, especially in a Christian magazine.

  • danaames

    Yes, so many frustrating aspects. Of course the gender role thing, the unwillingness to call this crime rape… and bad theology/anthropology underlying it all. And it’s totally fair to compare with the outcry that would come if it were a Catholic priest.

    The aspect that bothers me most is the idea that “giving testimony” and telling “what I’ve learned from my experience” is so easily counted as repentance. It’s all so conceptual, so brain-focused, so “cheap grace.” It has to do with the notion that if you “just” acceptJesusChristasyourpersonalLordandSavior everything is somehow okay, and nothing in one’s past need be dealt with – it’s all “under the blood.” The only thing that’s important is what one believes. The hard work of examining one’s life and attempting to cultivate virtue is somehow seen as lack of “trust in the finished work of Christ” or as “works-righteousness.” There’s no room for grief, no room for process, no room for healing encounter with God through others – including a good therapist – and through the material world (sacrament). It’s ironic that the theology of “total depravity” exists side by side with the very thin theology of what “salvation” means. Some can’t bear to tell the truth about all the hurt, because God’s reputation must be upheld, and if something bad happens, then God surely must not “be in control,” and such instances call into question the notion that a person becomes okay and their life continues to get better from the point of “accepting Christ” on. There is no theology to deal with suffering, no way to mourn the effects of sin, only happy-smiley assurances, or not so happy-smiley blaming.

    There are a lot of kind, sincere, Jesus-loving Evangelicals, and I’m sure these folks are holier than I am; I think they are that way in spite of their theology. I guess we all act against our professed theology at one time or another.

    The points made here about the perpetrator are all true; there is surely a lot of insight among the commenters, esp. as to how he is still making the situation all about himself. The only thing I would add is that we have to be careful not to drift into a place of objectifying the perpetrator. He is not a “p.o.s.” He is a broken, suffering human being, too – also in need of healing. He didn’t all of a sudden get to the place where he did what he did; most perpetrators were also child victims. Without putting him on a pedestal, he needs compassion and prayer, too.

    Dana

    • Hattie

      Maybe that was a little harsh, especially for this blog.

      My main issue is with the “Christian” source that decided we needed to hear the perp’s side of the story first.

      Yes, innocent until proven guilty. He’s BEEN PROVEN GUILTY.

      So if anybody was going to tell their “side”, it should’ve been the victim. And if she didn’t want to tell the story, it should’ve been laid to rest.

      I hope she was consulted before this was published.

    • http://www.elizabethesther.com/ elizabethesther

      Absolutely he needs prayer and compassion, too. In private.

      • danaames

        Yes.

        D.

      • Micah

        I think that it’s actually an important article, because I think it’s actually a far more common temptation that most of us would like to believe. I think that the fact that it’s anonymized is important. There’s nothing identifying about either him, or the student (other than the fact that he’s in prison and divorced).

        I agree that it doesn’t seem that he’s truly taken responsibility for what happened, but I don’t think CT should take down the post – I think it’s important for other youth pastors to read as a cautionary tale.

        Just my thought.

      • micah

        how come you deleted my reply? it wasn’t really that far out there?

    • ari

      You’re spot on with the insights on claiming “saved” versus working out a life of grace – working out our salvation with fear and trembling, anyone? Thank you.

  • brian

    what a pathetic narcissistic goofball of a predator. the peak of his ‘ministry’ appears to be taking 40 teens to camp. OMG I WAS A BEACON OF LIGHT TO THE WORLD. he talks about basking in the glow of mass adulation like some of of self-proclaimed messiah.

    his quotes from scripture are equally telling. he compares himself to david, like some cult leaders i knew. “hey, david had an affair, even spiritual giants like him AND I have weaknesses!” he also compares himself to uzzah, who was just trying to keep the ark from hitting the ground. “he was killed for accidentally breaking god’s law! poor innocent uzzah! just like i accidentally raped a girl over and over!”

    i noticed that he knew this girl and her family for years before he started abusing her. she must have been very young when he started grooming her. anyone want to place bets that she wasn’t the only one?

    • http://www.elizabethesther.com/ elizabethesther

      I had to lol at this! Thanks for the injection of humor. “beacon of light to the world!” because LOOKED AT MY PACKED OUT PASSENGER VAN. :D

  • Tara

    Wow, this week is just the pits! I joined you on Twitter and asked them to take it down. There’s a tiny disclaimer at the end of the article now, saying the he “knows” it was wrong and “takes 100% responsibility”. Nope. That just makes it worse, because now we know somebody heard the backlash and kept the thing up anyway. This is total garbage. What absolute garbage that we are expected to listen and sympathize with people who abuse their position of trust and sexually exploit children and minors. That is a sick-minded approach. When is it going to be clear that there is a difference between being imperfect and acting like a predator? “Oh we have to forgive him and welcome him back, because he is so super sorry and plus we need the seeming holiness of his pretty talking. I mean, really, when did his *victim* inspire us and make us feel warm and fuzzy like he does? Poor, poor predator. He was just tempted.” No! No wolves in the fold.

  • Didi K

    If the article had been about him and another adult commiting adultery it would still have come across narcissistic to me – it was all about “here is all of the good that i did (God gets the glory even though i did it all and its all about me)” – but it WASNT him and another adult, it was him and a child. he said “they started out a middler schoolers and grew”… the whole thing just made me so mad and feel icky and… it made me feel like i was reading some crazy man’s platform, but then i’d realize this was backed by a big name christian organization…why???

    • Sarah

      I agree. I started reading the article and before I even got to the euphemisms he used to describe how he raped a child I was turned off by all the red flags screaming NARCISSIST. That alone was enough for me to wonder how the article ever got published. This guy is seriously messed up.

  • C

    Many a sweet “submissive” Christian wife has been raped more than once by he “priestly” husband. Rape is rape. That’s all, nothing else. The guy in the article is sick!!!

  • herewegokids7

    I 1000 percent agree w/ you EE. I have a family member who groomed an underage girl in his care. It didn’t progress all the way to a criminal act…. at least that was ever admitted or witnessed… however he did speak about marriage and her “being his best friend”. When you’re 40 and your bestie is 16…. we have an issue.

    • herewegokids7

      P.S. He was already married. Yeah.

    • deltaflute

      Sadly in Canada it’s perfectly legal. I just found this out when a “fellow” American woman had consensual sex with a 16 year friend of her son. She’s being given asylum in Canada (where I live) because in Canada it’s legal unless the person is in a position of authority over you. It’s disturbing. 18 year olds barely have the faculties for a 40 year old but 16?

      • Michelle

        A pastor is in a position of authority…this would not be legal in Canada.

        • deltaflute

          The examples used are coach and teacher. I’m not entirely sure (nor do I know how the Supreme Court would rule) about pastors. The wording is vague. And as I said the examples used involve schooling not church. Would a pastor be in a position of authority over you on a youth group trip? sure But what about just going to church?

  • TheresaEH

    If the author was a former catholic priest he would be crucified by the media !!! The victim is NEVER to blamed for the abuse!!!! shame shame shame on CT!!!! It sounds like the author is more sorry he got caught than sorry for his sins.

    • Hattie

      This is a funny thing, Theresa. I have to wonder who would be crying “Judge not!” if the guy in this story was a Catholic priest.

      My guess is.. not very many.

      And don’t get me wrong- I think abusive behavior SHOULD be condemned. Anywhere it occurs.

      Nevertheless: if we’re condemning abuse in one denomination whilst quick-forgiving it in another… that is a problem.

      The yard-stick needs to be level.

      • TheresaEH

        abusive behaviour should be condemned, always. My meaning of the comment was “double standard”.

      • Unah

        I believe the abuse by catholic priests was fueled because most people assume the victims are teen boys. You rarely hear media coverage of a girl molested by a priest. Unfortunately, when the victim is a female and the predator is male the victim always shoulders some blame. It is the same when the victim is male and the predator female.

  • bperickson

    I just wrote a letter to the editor in complaint. Thanks for alerting me to this. Your voice matters.

    Here’s the “contact us” link in case anyone else wants to do the same: http://www.christianitytoday.com/le/help/contactus.html

  • Garp

    This is something that I find infuriating. This article was posted June 9th, 3 days ago. There are currently about 35 comments (thankfully they are mostly expressing outrage.) 35 comments.

    CT just published another article yesterday. There are almost 130 comments so far expressing outrage about gay marriage or Christian churches allowing gay marriage. Outrage! How dare 2 consenting adults get married? And of course their facebook page is going ape!

    But let a grown ass man rape a young girl and call it an affair and about 30 people get pissed off.

    • http://faithlikeaman.blogspot.com/ Ryan Blanchard

      it was way higher than that before they started deleting all the 1-start reviews w/comments.

      • Garp

        Yeah, I just went back and saw that it is now down to 18 comments. What the heck? So CT just deletes any comments they don’t like?

    • Anon

      I just looked at it and it only had 7 comments, so my guess is someone has been deleting.

      • Garp

        I just looked again too and it now has 18. What the heck? This is crazy. Is CT deleting comments they don’t like?

        • ari

          Yes. There were 75-80 at one point.

  • http://Www.theirishatheist.wordpress.com/ The Irish Atheist

    This should not be surprising or shocking to anyone. An epidemic of pastoral abuse doesn’t spring up out of nowhere.

    • Dez

      Yup. But many don’t want to think about what the fertilizer was that helped grow the epidemic spring up.

  • Ama

    I’m in the middle about this post. On the one hand, I completely agree that this ex pastor should be punished, and I don’t think life is enough. He has caused a lot of pain, and they should have had some form of foreword. However, this gives a unique insight into the mind of a predator. I have family with teenaged children, and this gives insight into what to watch for, what the predators are thinking.

    • Ama

      I do, however, completely agree it should be taken down. Just to be clear.

    • Unah

      I completely agree. There have been many journalists that have interviewed sexual predators for exactly the purpose you mentioned, to get into the mind of a predator. Unfortunately, CT did not treat this article like that, and instead allowed the predator to make excuses and blame everyone except himself, including the victim, for where he is now.

    • Sarah

      It does in the sense that it’s clear he’s pretty egocentric and likely has some diagnosable personality disorder, but I get that vibe from reading the article because of how desperate and fabricated the whole thing is. I don’t think it even comes close to being a glimpse into the mind of a predator or someone with sociopathic tendencies, it’s just symptoms spewed all over the page.

  • Adam

    “We are CHRISTIANS. We give voice to the abused child, NOT the predator.”

    We give voice to both. Let him who is without sin throw the first stone.

  • AAAtheist

    The “friendship” continued to develop.  Talking and texting turned flirtatious.  Flirting led to a physical relationship. …I pleaded guilty to 2 felonies, am serving time in prison and will be a registered sex offender for the rest of my life.

    Yes, how awful that a sex offender be identified for what he actually is.  The horror. 

    Why does Doug Phillips’ Bill Gothard’s “Tim’s” story sound so familiar? …

    Nevermind.  Asked and answered my own question.

  • dagobarbz

    You Christians should be whaling on this publication for this. It’s really part of what gives you a bad image. Secular society doesn’t like rapists, and Christian rapists sort of reflect on your whole faith and such.

    • Unah

      Many people have and the comments have not so mysteriously vanished. I agree, the way some of us deal with sexual predators is horrible. When I see things like the article in CT, where nobody there seems to really understands why people are appalled, I wonder what I am doing in this church. Then I see posts like this one, and I realize some of us still have a moral compass, and some fight left. It’s a confusing issue.

  • http://www.SamJolman.com/ Sam Jolman

    Clearly, this man does not understand that affairs don’t send people to jail. Sexual abuse does. I agree with you on this, Elisabeth. Your voice on this is a huge gift. Thanks for speaking up!

    If only he wrote his confession from THAT perspective, of being a sexual abuser and owning that dark sin of being a predator, how much healing he might help bring.

  • http://www.joshbarkey.com/ Josh Barkey

    I was a high school teacher for four years, and while I was aware that my young female charges were sexually mature creatures, I also knew that it would be a horribly abusive thing to take advantage of the trust-relationship I was in as an authority figure. Although I was the young, “cool” teacher, I made it abundantly clear that I was zero percent available for anything even remotely in the vicinity of something that might even HINT at flirtation. Anything other than that would’ve been an obvious abuse.

    So I’m not disagreeing with you at all, Elizabeth.

    But I’m just curious… at what age, exactly, would it become “not-rape?” Would it be the legally-mandated “age of consent?” So… a day after her birthday, it would have become not “rape,” but just “sleezy-dirtbag who should probably be attacked with a baseball bat by the girl’s father?”

    I’m not sure if I’m cool with current laws being the defining factor when it comes to something like that, and it feels to me like there is SOME sort of difference between what he did and other forms of sexual abuse. Perhaps we need a better term, to differentiate. I would tend to argue that a particular birthday is an arbitrary distinction, and that we need a legal system that better accounts for individual situations. But then, I’m fully convinced that the penal code in this country is next to useless.

    Not sure if saying all that’s gonna mark me out for vilification. I just feel like maybe all the righteous anger being directed at this guy here might cloud the air and hinder the possibility for that kind of discussion. I agree that child abuse is just about the worst. I have a son, and I think if someone abused him I – who am normally a raging pacifist – would probably consider murder. But I’m hearing a whole lot of absolutist talk going on here, as though this guy was some sort of irredeemable monster.

    You’re right – this guy should ABSOLUTELY NOT get a voice in a national magazine purporting to speak for Christ. But that doesn’t mean that he’s utterly depraved, and that God couldn’t CONCEIVABLY heal him of the evil in his heart and use his story in some public way to make a difference, someday. I probably wouldn’t listen to him… but that doesn’t mean I have a super-hard time seeing the possibility for redemption. Because I do see it as a violation of a different shade than something like, say, a genocidal dictator, or a serial killer. He’s just a self-lying idiot dirtbag… which, I’ll be honest, I often am in my own little ways.

    Anyway… he’s in prison, now, where apparently sex offenders are regularly treated as other inmates’ sex-toys. So I’m sure everybody’s real happy about that.

    • Unah

      It is never okay for a minister to have sex with a person in their care, no matter the age. It is completely unethical, wildly abusive, and in some states it is considered rape. The legal age of consent differs from state to state. At some point the law has to draw a hard line. As a society we all must respect the laws, and we are capable of controlling ourselves. Eighteen isn’t a magic age, but it is the age where our society recognizes that an individual is responsible for themselves, and can make decisions about sex. I believe this man may be capable of rehabilitation, but he isn’t making any progress in that area. This man should have wrote an article about how he used his power as a minister to prey on an underage girl in his care. Instead he writes an article about “adultery,” and blames everyone including the devil for all of the things he lost. This man has a lot of work to do before anyone should consider him rehabilitated.

      • http://www.joshbarkey.com/ Josh Barkey

        Why? Why does the law HAVE to draw a hard line? Why couldn’t we devise a legal system where there was time and space for the court (which would, ideally, be better-integrated into the community where the crime took place) to figure out what’s best for THIS particular situation? Why do we have to devise a legal system that sets an arbitrary standard and then punishes everyone according to the same, pre-set rules (unless, of course, they’re rich enough to afford great lawyers)?

        Because it’s more efficient? Because it’s easier?

        These are human lives we’re talking about, here. Victims, AND perpetrators. And in our rush to clearly distinguish the white hats from the black hats, I fear we often abandon the very spirit of Christ we want to defend.

        I’m NOT defending this dude’s actions. I’m NOT defending his wording. And I tend to agree, along with y’all, that the tenor of his post doesn’t seem to clearly indicate a full understanding of what he’s done.

        But for everybody to read his words and pretend to know his heart and to say he’s a monster and to speak with disdain and disgust, well… I’m not sure if THAT tone does much to help the conversation.

        Eighteen ISN’T a magic age, you’re right. But I don’t care much, either, when our society “recognizes that an individual is responsible for themselves, and can make decisions about sex.” People are not data points. They’re not statistics. And telling a young woman that she’s not an adult until an arbitrarily-chosen date doesn’t do her any favors, either.

        We live in a culture that’s dragging out adolescence further and further and further, while kids (especially girls) are reaching sexual maturity at younger and younger ages. And AGAIN, while I’m NOT defending this guy… I do think there’s room to distinguish between the different shades of violation and abuse that can and do go on.

        A pastor shtupping his (fully-adult) secretary is ALSO a violation of authority and a sexual failing, but I don’t think that ought to be considered the same as what this youth-pastor did. Neither do I think that what the youth-pastor did should be considered the exact same as someone who, say, forcibly rapes a small child, or a grown woman – neither in a legal sense, or in a moral sense.

        Painting it all with the same brush doesn’t do anybody any favors. It just allows us the opportunity to feel superior to all those evil-bad sexual deviants. We, who’ve never EVER used anyone else for sexual pleasure in ANY way that was ANYTHING but fully selfless, and other-centric.

        • Tami Schroeder Crolla

          “Why? Why does the law HAVE to draw a hard line? Why couldn’t we devise a legal system where there was time and space for the court (which would, ideally, be better-integrated into the community where the crime took
          place) to figure out what’s best for THIS particular situation? Why do we have to devise a legal system that sets an arbitrary standard and then punishes everyone according to the same, pre-set rules (unless, of course, they’re rich enough to afford great lawyers)?”

          There has to be a bright line drawn so that people know (or could know) beforehand that they’re committing a crime or not. If there is no bright line then the law is ambiguous and people do not know if their actions are criminal or not before charges are filed or before a jury convicts. That would violate the standards of justice and due process.

          In addition, it would inevitably lead to inconsistent judgments. Our laws are already inconsistently enforced because of people’s prejudices (e.g. racism, sexism). Leaving that much ambiguity in the law would only result in privileged people being found not guilty and non-privileged people being guilty even when the circumstances were exactly the same.

          • http://www.joshbarkey.com/ Josh Barkey

            ” Leaving that much ambiguity in the law would only result in privileged people being found not guilty and non-privileged people being guilty even when the circumstances were exactly the same.”

            Yep. And that’s how the system currently “works.”

            I’m just sayin’… since we’re talking ideals and oughts, here, we might as well go all the way with it. Just because law sometimes parallels justice, doesn’t mean it actually ever IS fully just. And using what IS as an a priori for understanding what OUGHT to be the case gives too much credence to our ability to be authentically just.

            All of this is, of course, beside the point.

          • ari

            Whatever. This is not primarily a discussion of “ideals and oughts,” it’s a discussion of what should be obvious to a “Christian” publication that a rapist need not be lauded for his leadership abilities…from prison. Calling a spade a spade is not judging. It’s holding someone up as a “Christian” leader or authority via a national publication who clearly STILL doesn’t exhibit true remorse is what is being asked. This isn’t an “ought,” it’s common sense, decent respect, a balanced viewpoint, and many other things, not a discussion of pie-in-the-sky ideals. I think a “shift in tone” on the part of a convicted child rapist would be more appropriate here, rather than couching his abuse in meaningless Christian-speak.

          • Hattie

            You’re right. A shift in tone is needed.

            The perp needs to be reminded that this is not all about him and his woes. That he hurt a vulnerable young person. And that it wasn’t “WE” who sinned, but “I”, the responsible adult.

            Until that happens, I’m not going to join the “We must call out out abuse NICELY” campaign. Sometimes outrage is justified.

        • Unah

          I don’t know what to tell you. You make some good points. There are a lot of things that are legal that are really morally reprehensible. As a society we try to minimize those things by drawing a line, because some people do not have a moral center. I don’t know how many years this man got for this crime, or the details of the crime. Because this isn’t a story written by the victim, we don’t know what this did to her or what really happened. I don’t think a minister and a secretary is really the same as a minister and someone the minister is supposed to be guiding spiritually. Sure, it isn’t the same thing as a violent bloody assault, but it is still very destructive to the victim. This is a gross violation of this girl’s trust. He was supposed to be guiding her, and teaching her, and mentoring her. Instead he is having sex with her. That is not consent. That is manipulation, it is horrible, and it causes lasting damage to his victim.

    • Sara

      Um, it sounds to me like this guy knew this girl from when she was young and groomed her until he decided to have his, ahem, “affair” with her. He is a textbook abuser and/or pedophile. Nothing is okay about this situation and it deserves all the “righteous anger” that it’s getting. What it comes down to is that he was supposed to be someone that this girl could trust and he obliterated that. And he doesn’t really seem to be sorry about it. Sorry for getting caught, perhaps, but not actually remorseful for what he did to that girl. Or to his wife for that matter. She wasn’t giving him enough sex so he decided to step out on her and have sleep with a high school student? Yeah, that’s messed up on multiple levels.

      What it comes down to is that she was a kid, and he was an adult. Teenagers don’t even have fully developed brains. They don’t always make good, rational decisions as a result, so it’s the adult’s job to make sure things don’t go too far. He did not do that. He took advantage of this girl and now is paying the price. Rightfully so.

      Also, what makes you think that everyone here is going to be happy
      about the possibility of this guy getting raped in prison? I’m not a regular commenter here and but I’ve read a few things by this blogger and I feel confident in saying that and her and her readership would not take any joy in that at all. He deserves to be in jail, far away from young people, but he does not deserve to have his body violated. Nobody deserves that.

    • Hattie

      You know, you are right that one’s 18th birthday does seem like an arbitrary choice, given that all human beings mature differently.

      There’s something on page 3 I’d like to point out to you, however:

      “A youth minister is involved in the lives of his students for up to 6 years. Over the years I had become very close with the small handful of students that had been involved since the early years… One of those students, though, I was depending on for more than just feedback.

      Wait, wait. Do you see what he just did there? Highschool graduate at 17 or 18, minus 6 years.. oh gee, looks like he met his victim when she was 11 or 12 tops.

      NO, he doesn’t come out and say what age she was when they met, or when things escalated. He leaves that part out! And leaves us to make our charitable assumptions.

      If it turns out I’m wrong, I will humbly apologize on this very blog. At the present time, I’m just going by what he says.

      • Hattie

        So yeah. A middle schooler, + adult in a position of authority, = a big fat NO.

    • anonymous

      Thank you. Thank you. Your reply made me cry in a different way than all the replies before this.

      I am a woman married to a register sex offender. (There are, currently, over 800K registered sex offenders in this country, over 85% on the registry for a single non-violent statutory and/or victimless offense. Many were young–in their late teens or early to mid 20s–when arrested, and many have girlfriends, wives, and children.) When my husband was 25, he committed a terrible wrong. While he was in an adult sex chat room (you had to click on a button saying you were 18 or over to enter) to indulge a problem with compulsive online sexual activity he’d struggled with since he was a teen, he was approached by an undercover officer pretending to be a mature, sexually-experienced teen girl a few months below the age of consent actively seeking out sex. “She” claimed to have had a number of hook-ups with men she’d met online and that it was great, and that he should “be a man” and agree to meet with her. After a month or so of back-and-forth chatting (during which time she never again revealed her age or mentioned anything indicating immaturity–no references to school, parents, homework, curfews, extracurriculars, etc.), he, like nearly 100 men arrested the same weekend he was, agreed to a meeting. Many of the men were 19-27.

      A search of my husband’s computers and chat records revealed that he had never searched for or entered websites where teens or children would go; had no images or searches for images of minors; and had never had or sought out any actual contact with a real minor. He was evaluated by two therapists, one he sought out on his own the day after his arrest, the other appointed by the state. Both concluded that he was not a predator, not a pedophile, and was at exceedingly low risk for reoffense. He was told if he took the case to trial he could spend 20 years in prison; if he pled out, he would get 2 years probation. He took the plea, and his penalty was 2 years probation (which he felt was entirely fair and had no objection to serving) and 25 years on the public sex offender registry.

      Because of his inclusion on the sex offender registry, we had to move to an inner city, because we were chased out of two suburbs due to death threats. Over a decade after his arrest–during which time he has earned a doctorate, supported his family, and been a model citizen–I homeschool our children, because of the harassment they face at school. My husband cannot take his children to a park or playground or he could face arrest. In fact, his fear and shame is so great that he doesn’t go outside. He goes to work, comes home, and remains in the house. If company visits, especially children, he goes upstairs and closes the door, for fear he will make somebody uncomfortable. The first thing he thinks of when he wakes up every morning is that he is a sex offender and most people would prefer he was dead. The only reason he has not killed himself is because he feels it is his duty to provide financially for his children, but he has said that if he were to be unable to find work because of his status and become a financial burden rather than provider, he would see no reason left to live.

      He screwed up, big time. He knows that. However, he is not a monster. Neither are many of the men who commit statutory offenses. Young men in their teens and twenties often make stupid, impulsive choices. They also think about sex differently than women. Numerous studies have indicated that, while women tend to look back on sexual relationships they had with adults when they were teens negatively or neutrally, men tend to look back on sexual relationships they had with adults when they were teens positively. This was certainly the case with my husband, who had two sexual relationships with adults when he was 16 and 17 and remembered both as positive experiences. So it’s not incomprehensible that many of these young men–who in most cases are NOT in any position of authority over the teen they have some sort of sexual contact with–would truly not realize that there was a potential for harm even if the teen seemed willing and eager for sex. Yes, they understand that it’s breaking the law, but so is speeding and drinking when underage and many other things we do. Because they don’t see the harm–not because they are monsters, but because they truly don’t understand why sex with a willing post-pubescent person would cause harm, especially with somebody who isn’t that much older–they don’t understand the seriousness of the laws or a reason for taking the laws seriously.

      These men are, in most cases, not predators or pedophiles. They are young men who make a really bad, wrong choice when they encounter a post-pubescent teen right on the border of the age of consent who wants to have sex with them. Should they be punished? Yes. Should there be consequences? Yes. Should they be written off as irredeemable monsters no different than an adult who molests a prepubescent child or a person who forcibly rapes a person using violence or threat of violence? I don’t think so. I think we must allow these young men to pay for their crime, receive the education and counselling they need to understand why it was a big deal, and then move on with their lives. To put it in perspective, a 35 year old who attempted to murder his girlfriend would serve his time and then be able to move on; a 20 year old who had sex with a willing girlfriend a week younger than the age of consent would, after he served his time, spend 25 years to life on a sex offender registry.

      I am not excusing the actions of these men, but in our zeal to take sexual abuse seriously, I would urge us not to make every man who has ever committed one of the hundreds of crimes that we consider sex offenses into an irredeemable monster. The fastest-growing area of prosecutions right now is online sex offenses, and many of the men arrested are in their teens and twenties. We are soon going to have so many men on the registry (in some places, it’s already 1% of the male population) that every community and every church and probably every family will need to make choices about how we are going to treat these men. Will they be pariahs for life? Will we write them off as monsters? Will be chase them and their families out of our communities? Will we work to deny them housing and employment and social services? Or will be accept that not everybody who makes a serious, illegal, immoral mistake involving sex is an irredeemable monster who must be punished for life and extend to them the grace we’d want extended if it were our own son who had made the mistake?

      • http://www.joshbarkey.com/ Josh Barkey

        Thank you so much for that response, anonymous.

        The sex-offender registry is one of the most screwed-up things about the penal code in this country, and I am SO sorry for how you and your family have suffered because of knee-jerk, fear-driven responses. I know that it’s possible to get on the registry for something as stupid as getting drunk and peeing in the wrong place in public, but I absolutely agree with you on the… well, the CRUELTY of it, even in situations like your husband’s. Where’s the grace in that? Where’s the opportunity to heal, and then contribute and LIVE?

        We all want easily-identifiable monsters to yell at, and I understand the pain that a lot of us feel about these things because of real-life trauma. But my feeling is that some of the rage we muster in cases like these is less about protection and more about deflection. If the monster’s out there, then I don’t have to look too closely at the monster in here.

      • Hannah Lewis

        Wow. THIS was powerful and has really made me think. THANK YOU for sharing. My heart is hurting for what your family has been through.

    • Sarah

      If he was her pastor, in a position of either formal, informal, or “spiritual” authority over (that feels gross to type, but it would be the case in this situation, her age doesn’t matter (though it makes the whole thing more heinous.

      • http://www.joshbarkey.com/ Josh Barkey

        I am aware, yes, of the importance of the authority-relationship in situations like these, but I don’t think that it negates the importance of the age-difference, either. It’s all important, and I think that space needs to be made for nuance – for distinctions that inevitably get drowned out when we allow ourselves to speak out of our disgust, and our sense that in THIS extreme case, at least, we are perfectly justified in throwing stones.

      • http://transformingseminarian.blogspot.com Mark Baker-Wright

        Just means that there are two issues here, both of which are at play in this matter, and either one of which would be enough to demand the article to be pulled from a Christian magazine such at CT (especially if only the perpetrator is being given voice):

        1. Abuse of pastoral power. Would have been wrong at any age. Perhaps more of a spiritual issue than a legal one, and perhaps the only one the anonymous writer has any awareness of, despite apparently being in prison.
        2. Statutory Rape. Age is a factor. A legal matter, to be given to the police.

    • ari

      Regardless, the law is still the law. Why can you drive when you turn 16 and not when you’re 15 and 364 days old? Why can you drink when you turn 21 and not when you’re 20 and 364 days old? It’s the law. This creep knew her for 5-6 years? That makes her 11-12 upon meeting her? PS – he was married and not a fellow teenager. This isn’t exactly a “gray” area of teenage boyfriend/girlfriend activity. This is a married adult in a position of authority seducing and violating a child, then indicting her by saying “we” tried to stop. So wrong on so many levels.

  • Pamela Patterson Lake

    OMG. I can’t believe CT actually printed this sex offender’s article. I finished reading it over on their website and I’m appalled. There was not one ounce of repentance in that article. If there had been, we’d have been reading about the SIN AGAINST THE VICTIM that he was guilty of. This. This is why so many people are vacating churches.

  • Mary DeMuth

    I’ve tweeted and commented. I can’t even. Makes me sick.

  • Mary DeMuth

    As to the amount of comments, I believe there are actually more comments that have happened, but for whatever reason Leadership Journal is taking them down? At least twenty-five have disappeared in the past few minutes, including mine. This is strange behavior, to be sure.

    • http://www.elizabethesther.com/ elizabethesther

      I can’t imagine how personally painful this must be to you, Mary. Thank you for adding your voice to our outcry.

  • Jennifer Roach

    Dear Anonymous Pastor,

    I don’t know if you will see this. But I hope so because we need to talk.

    By the time I was 14 my family was a mess. I looked to
    the Church to be my family. I gave my
    heart to the Lord and was at church any time the doors were open. I came early and stayed late – just so I
    could be with “my real family.” I loved Bible study, I sang in the choir. I lived for summer camp and other trips that
    would let me be with people who loved me for longer periods. My church family was everything to me.

    My youth pastor and his wife took notice of me. He was about your age, good looking and
    wanted to serve the Lord by leading kids.
    I thought I had died and gone to Heaven the day he and his wife asked if
    I wanted to stay at their house indefinitely instead of staying in my chaotic
    home. I loved it. I couldn’t believe how
    lucky I was to stay with them. My faith
    grew and I soaked up every bit of love they had for me. I was a naive kid and I
    had no idea what was coming.

    One day I came home from school and he (this pastor) was
    lying in bed. I remember feeling disappointed
    because we would always have such good talks after school and if he was ill or
    tired, I would need to leave him alone.
    But as I came in the door, he called me to come to the door of the
    room. I did. We talked for a moment and then he said, “Well,
    you can at least give me a hug.” And as I did, he pulled me into bed with him. While
    an emotionally healthy girl of my age might have known to get out of the bed, I
    did not. Why? He had groomed me in such a way that this
    seemed safe and ok. “You’re special,” he said, implying that others wouldn’t understand.
    I was so starving for love that I didn’t even dream of protesting what happened
    next.

    Later he told me to read Psalm 51 and pray for
    forgiveness.

    Much later, years later, he would characterize our
    relationship as mutual. “It was an
    affair.” And I was confused and devastated.

    When he pulled me into his bed that day (and what
    happened for a long time to come) was not something I could possibly consent
    to. I was a girl, he was a full grown man. I was from a chaotic family, he was a
    pastor. Even if I had thrown myself
    naked at him (which I didn’t), he should have known better.

    He was a pastor to me – a representative of God. Try to imagine what his abuse did to my relationship
    with God. He held a privileged place and he betrayed me and God by using his
    position of trust against me.

    So, Anonymous Pastor, no you did not have an affair with
    this girl. It’s not that you both had
    trouble controlling yourself – it’s that you molested her. You used your position of power and privilege
    to prey on her, and you did it in the name of God.

    • Hattie

      Wow.

    • Dustin Richards

      Elisabeth, I understand your passion and your position but I’m going to say I disagree with taking the article down. While we should always place priority on empathizing with the victim and not the one who abused power, I read the article and I don’t believe it’s about that at all. While it needed to be clarified that he was the predator (which both he and Christian Today later did), his life doesn’t have to be in vain and I pray this article is not taken down. Christian Men in leadership are falling into sexual sin at an alarming rate and may this article be a caution and a wake up call for those who the enemy is trying to tempt to do the same. The enemy is sly and devious and some men may be doing what they think is harmless things (texting, flirting, concealing) but which lead down a road destruction. Boundaries need to be established and he ends the article warning such. If this article is taken down, maybe some men falling into the same sin won’t be deterred from their destructive path and more victims will be created. I’m sure the man made mistakes in his article but the example of what led to his destruction is edifying to the body of Christ and is a warning that I pray prevents more destruction in other’s lives!

      • Pat Griffin

        We’re not talking about “falling into sin” here. We’re talking about committing a crime. He wasn’t being “tempted by the enemy.” He was the enemy.

        • Dustin Richards

          Ephesians 6:12 would disagree

          • Tami Schroeder Crolla

            Ephesians 6:12 isn’t talking about temptation or sin. The “struggle” referenced there isn’t one with sin. James 1:14-15 is more on point: “14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”

          • Dustin Richards

            James 1:14-15 is on point with reference to sin! Totally agree!! But I was not speaking about that. Ephesians 6:12 says this man is not the enemy and that the battle is not with him but spiritual forces of darkness.

          • Unah

            What is wrong with you? We are not talking about a man who had an affair with a co-worker. You don’t just accidently have sex with a teenager. This man didn’t fall into sin. He went out looking for it. He had known this girl since middle school, what is that 12 years old? She had to be under the age of 16 when this happened. A grown man has to work very hard to end up in a sexual relationship with a teenager. He was this girl’s enemy, her family’s enemy, and the enemy of every member of that church. He preyed on this girl. The devil did not do this. This man did this. He made these choices, not the devil. Normal people do not prey sexually on children and teenagers.

      • MMAH

        One little paragraph of ‘clarification’ AFTER publishing six pages of avoidance and the removal of posts pointing that out. I find that so inadequate. No, I find that just plain wrong.

      • claire

        Do you care if survivors think the church is an unsafe space? Does that bother you? Because this man’s ravings make me seriously want to shut the door and never look back.

        • Wakeupcall

          I hear ya there, I was thinking the same thing. Sadly this is the response I received from my family (my dad a pentecostal preacher) and the church in which we all belonged. He was never prosecuted because I was the one messing up his life by my ideas that he destroyed mine. (my dad didn’t do the molesting but he refused to say or do anything about it, matter of fact he refused to even let me see a therapist, they’d fill my head with demon speak)

      • pragmatic1

        “Christian Men in leadership are falling into sexual sin at an alarming rate and may this article be a caution and a wake up call for those who the enemy is trying to tempt to do the same.”

        If only these Christian leaders had someone to call on in their weaker moments…

        • Pamela

          Umm, they do have someone to call upon. His Name is Jesus.

      • R

        Dustin, I understand your point that his fall should not be in vain and I agree that this story needs to be told to help be a deterrent for others going down that path themselves. However, this article is written completely from the wrong perspective.

        Yes, a clear message is that little, innocent things that most people would think are completely ok can start someone down a path to sin and destruction. Proper boundaries need to be set and followed. Pastors and other people in positions of power must be extra vigilant to not fall into the Enemy’s trap.

        The problem with this article is that it’s written from the perspective of someone who is still justifying and defending his crime. He constantly refers to what happened as an affair. He talks about how much the victim adored him and talks about the entire situation as if it was nothing serious.

        I understand the perspective that describing things that way puts it in terms that reminds us that we could easily be in the same situation. But the way the article is written the revelation that his “affair” was with a minor along with the description of the consequences he faced come as nearly an afterthought to the rest of the story.

        Everything about the article is written from his perspective with the consequences for the victim, his family and everyone else involved being minimized or ignored. If he had focused more on everyone else involved instead of only on himself, it would have been better.

        I really think this article was written from someone who is still living inside a lie. He has not completely accepted that he’s a rapist and what he did wasn’t innocent. I really don’t think he is far enough down his healing journey to be ready to write this article.

    • Franklin Bacon

      Yours is a particularly sad story, because you had no one to intervene or protect you. Your parents did not and the pastor did not. I am somewhat similar in that I had no stable home life to protect me from the crazy church. I was never sexually abused, but emotionally abused by both the church and my mother. We were the kind who were particularly vulnerable to those unhealthy outside environments to which we are exposed.

  • Adam

    “We are CHRISTIANS. We give voice to the abused child, NOT the predator.”

    We give voice to both. You without sin throw the first stone.

    • Hattie

      Yes, well. There is also a verse about millstones. Which are “hurled”, as I recall.

      • Adam

        Yes, by God. Not by man.

        • Hattie

          I do hope you can support your argument from the text.

          • Adam

            Hattie, I have no wish to enter into a fruitless argument with you. I’m sure you have the best intentions, it just seems to me that there should be a little more balanced approach to this issue. Forgiveness is difficult, especially when children are involved, but I believe God has forgiven this man. I can do little else.

        • Hattie

          This just gets more absurd every time I look at it. ‘Night Bible-thumper!

          • http://www.elizabethesther.com/ elizabethesther

            It IS absurd. Which is why I just blocked him.

    • KarenH

      No, we don’t give voice to both. We give voice to the oppressed and the victims. We give grace, upon repentance, to the predators.

      Show me repentance–real repentance on that man’s part–and we can discuss the grace he is due by the Christian community. To whit: we acknowledge his future in heaven.

      Here on earth? We give unto Caesar that which belongs to Caesar. Which includes the legal and social consequences of taking 6 years to groom and prey on a child for sexual exploitation.

      • Hattie

        I agree KarenH. And to those worried the perp didn’t get a “voice”..

        Guys, he got SIX PAGES of “voice”. And it got repetitive, too, what with his whining and Bible stories. Just how much are we obligated to listen to, in order to bring “balance”?

        And to whom it may concern: There is NOTHING in the story about the Good Samaritan to suggest that he ran after the robbers, shouting “I forgive you!!!”

        Nope. Mr. Go-and-do-likewise focused SOLELY on the victim.

    • Levedi

      Adam, I’ve seen a repentant child-harmer in person. A member of my current church did 30 years as an accessory to the beating death of her toddler at the hands of her boyfriend. Her manner of sharing her story is nothing like this guy’s. She takes full responsibility for her actions. She never says a word to imply that her daughter deserved to die. This guy is a manipulator and a deceiver. Christ didn’t tell us to be gullible and let predators “tell their side of the story.” We know his side – he committed multiple felonies against a child who trusted him more than she trusted her own parents. And his own words condemn him now. When Christ refused to condemn the woman caught in adultery he called out hypocrites, not righteous anger. And he STILL told the woman to “go and sin no more.”

    • Sarah

      Being a sexual predator is not the equivalent of being a flawed and sinful person.

    • http://www.elizabethesther.com/ elizabethesther

      Adam, you’ve been blacklisted. Goodbye.

  • Hannah N.

    Um, hi. I have been living in my own little community world of grief and pain for the past week and was totally unaware that this was published and happening. Thank you for drawing attention to it. A piece I wrote was published in CT today, on a totally unrelated topic, but now I feel very weird and gross being published by the same site. It feels like waking up from a bad dream only to discover there is a dead skunk in your room. I could not even finish reading it was so gross.

  • Alexis

    Thanks for sharing this so we could take action. I had to make an account in order to comment on the original article.

    Before I comment I always read the whole thing. Wow. It felt like getting preached at by an unrepentant rapist… oh wait it was exactly that thing. I feel gross on two levels now. Gross. Ew. Ick. Yuck. Gotta hand it to a manipulative child rapist to get Christianity Today to be complicit in his victimization of an innocent child. *clap clap*

    Here is an excellent long piece on GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment): http://prospect.org/article/next-christian-sex-abuse-scandal

    It’s worth your time. I found it helpful to understand how pastors (and Christian magazines apparently) can be on the abuser’s side and do the absolutely wrong thing in these situations.

  • Missionarymike

    Go to the Leadership Journal and Christianity Today Facebook page and EVERY TIME they post a new article leave a comment like this: Take down the post, Leadership Journal and Christianity Today! – Let’s tell them until they get the message!

    • http://biblicalpersonhood.wordpress.com/ Retha Faurie

      I think they should:
      a) take it down for now
      b) Give it to an expert in how the mind of a sexual predator works. Then let the predator write an article on how sexual predators excuse their actions, how they get Christians on their side, etc. As an example, the expert should be allowed to quote extensively from this article, and to mention how Christianity Today originally published this article. That will change it from allowing an unrepentant criminal, using an underage girl he knew for years and was in a position of trust to, to preach; to an article exposing the thinking of unrepentant sexual predators, how easy it is to be misled by them, and how to not be deceived.

    • gpersons

      There were over 80 comments last night, most saying to please take it down. This morning, there are only 18. Sad.

  • anonymous

    Please, let’s not make sweeping claims about “sex offenders” being “predators” and “pedophiles” who should be silenced and rejected by the Christian community without thinking through what the reality of the 800K men on the sex offender registry is.

    I know a lovely couple in Texas who recently married in their mid-20s.
    He was arrested at 19 for having sex with his willing 15 year old
    girlfriend. Very few states still have statutory rape as a charge, and
    instead just charge statutory cases under other statutes. He pled guilty
    to “attempted first degree rape of a child.” That is the same charge a
    40 year old man who tries to rape a 6 year old would get.

    He
    spent two years in prison and is a registered sex offender. Is he a
    monster? Is he a predator? The fact that he and his girlfriend were not
    that far apart in age or maturity didn’t matter or mitigate anything;
    that’s not how our laws about sex crimes work.

    Again, in our
    justified zeal to defend and protect children, we must not vilify and
    dehumanize the 800K people, mostly men, who are registered sex offenders
    and write them all off as vile predators who deserve only the harshest
    of lifelong punishments. A third of registered sex offenders were
    convicted of their crimes when they were minors themselves. An even
    larger number committed their crimes when they were in their late teens
    or twenties. Less than 15% of them have commited either 1) an offense of
    any type against a child 13 or under, 2) a forcible or violent offense
    against a person of any age, or 3) multiple offenses of any type
    (including multiple statutory or non-violent offenses). The vast
    majority of registered sex offenders are single-time non-violent
    statutory or victimless offenders, who committed their offense in their
    teens or twenties.

    These men are human beings. They are sons,
    husbands, brothers, and fathers. Most will never reoffend. They serve
    their time, learn from their mistakes, and mature into better people. And yet, because of the public nature of their status–most are on the registry for 25 years to life–they are often denied employment, denied housing, and also denied government assistance (many programs are not open to sex offenders or any household that includes a sex offender). Their families are threatened and ostracized. Their children are bullied and harassed. They are denied participation in nearly all corners of society. The church should not emulate the world on this. The church, which preaches grace, should extend it to those the world rejects. If it fails to do that when sex is involved–if it will welcome with grace and forgiveness and open arms the man who attempted murder, the woman who neglected and lost her children, the man who committed an armed robbery, the woman who sold drugs; but not the man who at 20 made a bad choice about sex with an underage girlfriend, or the man who at 22 responded positively in an adult chat room to the advances of an undercover officer pretending to be a sexually-experienced teen a few months below the age of consent actively seeking out a hook-up, or the man who at 24 and in the throes of a porn addiction downloaded some images of topless 16 and 17 year olds–then it does not deserve to be called the church. We do not get to decide that sins involving sex, when committed by men, are the unforgiveable sins. We can do better.

    • KatR

      This is not a conversation about the sex offender registry. This is a not a conversation about a 19 year old having sex with his 15 year old girlfriend. This is a conversation about a pastor who, by his own words, groomed and abused a girl who was supposed to be in his care. And as for sex offenders being “silenced” and “rejected” by the Christian community, please take note of who got to write pages in a well known Christian publication (and who got to blame his wife and call the victim a fellow sinner), and who remains voiceless. This is not a rare occurrence. It is mainly the victims who are vilified and cast out of Christian community, while their abusers find safe haven.

      • http://www.elizabethesther.com/ elizabethesther

        EXACTLY

    • Sarah

      And some people are on the sex offender registry because they are sexual predators, like the topic of discussion here.

    • Elenath

      What does your story have to do with ANYTHING?

  • Ali Wilkin

    Like many I have tweeted, re-tweeted and emailed Leadership Journal/Christianity Today directly. And so far they have said nothing, and done less.

    Silence was the stern reply, it seems.

    Yes, and amen to all of this. We HAVE to change the way we talk about this. We have a RESPONSIBILITY to the victims to change the way we talk about this. We have to understand that it is not real repentance when there is no voice for the victim and no justice either.

    Thank you for this piece.

  • Ami

    Yesterday when I left a comment on the article site calling for this to be taken down there were close to forty other comments, mostly doing the same thing I was doing. Today there are only 18 comments, of which, all but one are positive. I smell something rotten in the state of Denmark over there. And it sickens me almost as much as the article itself.

  • Jhonnie Walker

    We never know what tomorrow may bring. Therefore, preventing danger to happen is a clever thing to do. Yet, when we’re in a situation between life and death — we can also think if we could really escape? However, prevention is still better that cure and as we quote “it’s better to be ready than to be sorry.” And for this, I would suggest this safety application that I’m currently using for me and my family. It is a Panic Button installed on a Smartphone’s and it allows us to alert all the member of our family when danger comes. It can also identify the exact location and have the ability to search the address of any family that you wanted to locate. You can browse their other features with this link: http://safekidzone.com/?a_aid=52f12fafd5de8

  • Garp

    Can someone take screen shots of the article and the comments. I am at work so I cannot. CT is apparently deleting comments they do not like.

  • Calvin Sanders

    Safety first. At school, workplace, while driving your car, safety must be a priority. As a parent, I find it very hard to secure the safety of my children. I am a father of two lovely daughters. Both go to high school. I can’t be with them every single time. Me and my wife go to work everyday. It’s hard to be certain about their whereabouts and situation. Good thing I discovered this amazing application installed on my childrens phones. It has a panic button that my children will press in case of an emergency. As simple as that it will automatically be connected to a 24/7 Response center and if needed, your call can be escalated to the nearest 911 Station. Me, along with my wife and close friends as my children’s safety network, will be notified also through text message or a conference call. I worry less. This can help you too. Just visit their site to know more about this:http://safekidzone.com/#!/page_home

  • Margaret Mary Myers

    Like some others here, my biggest concern is his continued use of the word “we”. This concerns me for a couple of reasons. For one thing, has he yet given up the relationship (in his own mind and heart)? For another thing, women and girls need to be affirmed in the knowledge that it isn’t or wasn’t their fault, that they are not equally responsible. It is way too natural for a girl or woman to take the blame & hide in shame. Although in my case, it wasn’t rape (thankfully, it didn’t occur to that degree), it took me 40 years before I could tell my story of ongoing childhood sexual abuse, and another 10 or 20 to be convinced that I wasn’t equally responsible or just a “weak” person. (I was going to comment on the CT article but I’m being discouraged by having to register first, especially after hearing they are taking comments down.) If anyone is reading this who is being abused, get help, and anyone who was abused, get counseling. Please. It’s crazy all the ways keeping it bottled up can affect your life.

  • ari

    I commented on CT/LJ yesterday, only to find my comment deleted within hours (along with several others). I will be going back today to do it again. I encourage others who have the time/energy to do the same.

  • TheresaEH

    OHMY GOSH!!!! I just went back and visited the CT article. The comment moderators are working over time deleting comments, keeping the “positive ones” and only allowing very sanitized criticism comments to remain!! Talk about abusing the victim all over again.

  • ari

    Email them here to TAKE IT DOWN.
    LJEditor@christianitytoday.com

    • Katiejane

      I just looked and I think they have taken it down?

      • Hattie

        It appears they have. With a real apology.

        Good job E.E. : )

  • Rachel Heston-Davis

    Man, this story. Yikes.

    Just one quibble with your article…I missed the part where he encouraged people in similar situations to go to others in the church but told them not to go to the police. Did CT take that out or something? (I was skimming by the end so maybe I just missed it).

    My other question is a semi-related question to the group at large, because now I’m really wondering what others think. I have known a couple of different people in my life who ended up marrying their youth pastor right after they got out of the youth group. In both separate cases, the girls in question were 18 or 19 and married or started officially dating the youth pastor within a few months or weeks of “aging out” of the youth group. How do you think one ought to view a situation like that? I mean, obviously, if they were not yet sleeping together (and the girl was 18 or older anyway) then it’s not illegal and it’s not rape…but then, from a power dynamics perspective, how is sleeping with, say, your 17-year-old student that much different than marrying and then sleeping with an 18-year-old who was your student until 6 months ago? Just wondering what you all think of this.

    • Rachel Heston-Davis

      Oh, and also, I realize that it’s obviously different because the youth pastors who married their students weren’t involving said students in cheating on a marriage already in progress, sso there’s that. But that still doesn’t change the power differential.

    • Hannah Lewis

      That’s one of the things I’m wondering too. Does this all change just because she’s 18 or 19? When is “consensual” actually “manipulated” instead of truly “consensual”? What is the definition of “consensual” anyway? And is it always ok just because it’s “consensual”? I’d need to know the whole story and get the input of some professionals before wading those murky waters.

  • Kristen

    How do we write a letter or email Christianity Today our thoughts??? I cannt seem to find a link to contact them….

    • Charissa

      Sort comments here by “newest” and you’ll see somebody posted an e-mail address.

      (to save you the time, it’s LJEditor@christianitytoday.com — I have composed an e-mail myself, just taking a minute or two to simmer down before I reread and send)

    • ari
  • Donna J. Holmes-Shumskis

    RAPE.
    Reprobate
    Abusive
    Power
    Enrage

    He got caught. His story in his head should never be given the light of day. End of story.

    God Bless the victim and her time ahead.

  • Rachel

    So, this is kind of off the topic, but I noticed that this man was thinking of himself as very successful because the youth group only had a few kids when he arrived and had grown to a large number. The ministry was expanding and other people were asking him for advice on how to grow their own ministry. Not unlike a pastor who takes a church from a small, on-the-corner, non-denominational church to a mega church only to be brought down by a sexual/drugs/money scandle.There is a behavior pattern here that people are not identifying.

    • Rachel Heston-Davis

      Really interesting connection! Although to be fair, I think there’s an unhealthy “numbers means success” attitude that tends to run rampant through the ministry population anyway. But you’re right…that guy describes his primary view of his ministry in terms of numbers, and that’s a bad sign.

      • Rachel

        That was exactly my point. The idea of numbers = success = God’s blessing is a very slippery slope. Many are willing to ignore warning signs if the seats are filled. There is nothing to support that large numbers is evidence of God’s blessing or God’s approval but still humans see it that way. I would be willing to hypothesize that there were red flags for a long time before damage was done in this situation. I also hypothesize that those same red flags seen with low attendance numbers would have been taken seriously. The human brain will often find evidence for what it wants to believe and ignore evidence that is contrary to the desired conclusion.

        • Rachel Heston-Davis

          I think he even did mention in the article that someone approached him about this overly-close dynamic with the student towards the beginning (i.e. there were red flags that people left alone)….so I am betting you hit the nail on the head with this theory!

    • Hattie

      Is a cult what you’re thinking of?

      My theory is that cults occur on a spectrum and, left unchecked, tend to get worse over time.

      I also think (this is just my theory) that there can be unhealthy, abusive, or cultish elements in practically any organization.

  • Liz Christchild

    They added an author’s not saying: In response to readers’ concerns, the author of this piece has offered
    the following clarification: “I recognize that what I initially
    considered a consensual relationship was actually preying on a minor.
    Youth pastors who do the same are not “in relationship” but are indeed
    sexual predators. I take 100 percent of the responsibility for what
    happened.”

    But the language of the piece hasn’t changed. Other young girls who are being flirted with by a youth minister or pastor who is using their position to groom them isn’t going to understand how WRONG it was. She’s not in a position to make the judgment call and SHE isn’t being aided. She is going to think that “they” didn’t understand. She has been manipulated by a sexual-predator and this article only begs mercy and twists scripture to say he didn’t have enough accountability.

    HOGSWALLOW and HORSESHIT!

  • Kate

    Did any of you read the follow up comment?

  • http://www.anirenicon.com/ Allen O’Brien

    CT editors had a “lapse in judgement.” Maybe they should write an article about it.

    MY EASY TRIP FROM PRAYERFUL CHRISTIAN MAGAZINE TO PREYING ON CHILDREN FOR CLICKS

    This is just awful.

  • gimpi1

    I posted this on Patheos since I had a similar thing happen in my circle of friends a while ago. For what it’s worth, this is the incident.

    I have a friend who had a friend… yes this really is a friend of a friend story. My friend’s former friend was a police officer. 15 years on the force in a major city in California. He was married. His wife had a daughter from her first marriage. One day, his wife came home from work unexpectedly and found her husband and daughter (now 15) having sex. Apparently, the sexual relationship had been going on for a year or so. He had also groomed her from the time he married her mother, when she was 9.

    He “lost everything.” He lost his job and went to prison. His wife divorced him. He will have to register as a sex-offender. He can (obviously) never work in law-enforcement again. My friend got a letter from him, pretty-much whining about this. Here is some of what he failed to mention in his letter:

    His now ex-wife lost her home. (She couldn’t make the mortgage alone.) His wife and step-daughter victim lost their medical insurance because it was provide by his employer. His family no longer has a pension to count on in retirement, because of the way he lost his job. His step daughter will need extensive therapy, which his ex-wife can’t pay for. Some of his former associates have harassed his ex-wife for turning him in. They had to move out of the city. His step-daughter has had nasty comments posted on Facebook about her, and has had to change schools a couple of times because of student harassment.

    Yet he sees none of this as relevant. Because, apparently, the world revolves around him. My friend was shocked beyond measure. He feels he never knew this fellow. It put him into a bit of a tailspin, wondering if he could ever really trust anyone ever again. Because if this fellow, who he was sure he knew inside and out, who he knew he could count on through thick and thin, turned out to be a sociopathic predator, what does that say about his judgement?

    Just a similar experience I had last year.

  • http://www.mooneyart.com Gerry

    Ironic that is was published in “Christianity Today”. Under the circumstances that’s more than just the name of a publication.

  • Hannah Lewis

    I disagree with never giving the abuser a voice, and I particularly disagree that the Christian position is to always exclude the voice of the abuser. I like hearing all sides of a story. And I think in the wake of so many stories about victims in the past weeks because of #yesallwomen (which isn’t a bad thing, don’t get me wrong) a story from the POV of the other side had potential to round things out and be really powerful… IF he/she had seemed to actually known what he/she had done. In the CT article, the man who writes it shows he’s obviously still not aware/willing to admit what he’s done. He still tells the story through the “christianese script”. He uses phrases like “marital infidelity” instead of “rape” etc. And this shows a level of self- and situation-unawareness that is possibly pathological. As long as christians (and everyone) are not willing to call things what they are, face up to the reality of it, in all its ugliness and truth, then things can’t get better. Too much of the church is still interested in white-washing tombs and that’s not a way to a better world. The CT article showed a lot of the church is still just not interested in getting real about sex abuse.

    • Anne Wellington

      I agree with hearing the story from the abusers side BUT only in court or during an investigation, and for it to be heard not by unqualified pastors (easily swayed by an emotional “repentance”) but by professionals too. Why? The church is vastly under educated in dealing with these matters and so can fall prey to the charm of a manipulative abuser trying to get off the hook. But a pro knows the tactics the abuser might use during questioning, and can suss out their mentality by the words they use . The guy in the article was most certainly NOT repentant as you say.

  • Amy

    This must have had an impact on the other girls, and guys for that matter, in the youth group! I remember how confusing some of the fall out of teens dating each other, was, when I was that age. The fall out of this must have been so damaging to the other youth.

  • http://thehomespunlife.com/ Sisterlisa

    Amen, sister! Standing ovation!

  • amber

    Christianity Today and Leadership Journal #takedownthatpost the one that calls child rape a consentual relationship, the one that is by no means an example of repentence or humility or reparations. This child predator rapist, convicted, why is he preaching and using inclusive language and comparing the way he pursued and repeatedly raped a child to the way Uzziah tried to catch The Ark of the Covenant from hitting the ground (a potentially knee-jerk reaction or noble gesture). He shouldnt be leading, he has caused much much much pain.

  • ab

    As a survivor, Christian and as a therapist specializing in Sexual assault and trauma I am sickened and appalled at the arrogance of this “pastor” and the lapse of judgment by CT. There really are no words! Thank you for bringing this to our attention. We must continue to act until this garbage is removed.

  • ari

    Elizabeth and readers – they have now edited the article to remove the quotation marks from when he called his victim a “friend” and to remove instances of “we” to say “I” (“we” couldn’t resist the temptation statements, etc.). I find this even more disappointing and disturbing.

    • Unah

      I’m not sure how changing “friend” to friend makes it better. They should have changed it from “friend” to victim.

  • Hannah Lewis

    Another thing this made me think about was the lack of training that leaders in our churches get vs. the amount of authority we give them. Personally, I disagree that the Bible supports the kind of hierarchical power structure we always give our churches, where one or a very small handful of (typically) men are in control at the top. I think this is a source of a lot of the problems.
    But still, I’ve been to seminary, and people training to become pastors get (at least at my seminary – which was one of the top in the nation, so if *they* didn’t do it…) virtually no counseling/psychology training (like, 1 semester, maybe 2 if they opt for more). Yet we make them our counselors for all kinds of issues. I’ve long said I’d never go to a pastor for counseling of any kind for this very reason: they AREN’T QUALIFIED most the time. There are actual professional therapists out there I’d go to first.
    The man in this CT article was a youth minister STRAIGHT OUT OF COLLEGE. Who knows what his major was? “Hey! He’s an extroverted, high-energy Christian man! Let’s put him in charge of the youth program!” WHAT??
    People training in college to become teachers go through situational/interpersonal/youth psychology training that help prepare them for their close interaction with youth, but how much do we do that for people we hire as youth pastors? My aunt who is a teacher says her school has very strict rules about communicating with students via social media. Because this is obviously a weak spot. What kind of similar rules and protections and training do churches institute with their staff?
    I volunteered in a elementary-school-level ministry at a church after college and we had to go through a lot of background checks, submit references, and could never NEVER be alone with a child, EVER. It made a serious point about protecting the children. It was one of the best programs I’ve ever seen in that regard. Still, there were things the program didn’t address: social media and texting, for example. And lots of stuff changes between working with 8 year olds (the age group I worked with) and 15 year olds. But why don’t all churches have at least that level of security with their youth? I’ve worked in youth programs that had no checks in place. They’re often so desperate for help, they’ll take nearly anyone. Churches need to get a LOT more comprehensive/holistic in how they run their programs if they are to take this problem seriously. We are giving people way too much power in our churches who don’t deserve it AND who have way too little accountability/safety checks in place to protect people.

  • jeffreyoverstreet

    Elizabeth, first, let me say I agree that the Leadership Journal article shouldn’t have been published.

    But while I agree with your protest, I think you’re mailing that protest to the wrong address.

    Perhaps this has been clarified elsewhere, but since the Twitter handle @CTmagazine appears in this post…

    You’re blaming the wrong people by pointing at Christianity Today magazine.

    Christianity Today is a magazine with a totally separate editorial staff from Leadership Journal, which published the article in question. (A CT employee wrote to remind me of this.)

    So… yes, I totally agree that this article was inappropriate. But if you want to do something about it, don’t blame Christianity Today (the magazine). Blame the folks at Leadership Journal… or their parent company (which, to confuse the issue further, has the name Christianity Today International, but is not the same community as the folks at Christianity Today magazine).

    Sure, the header of the website confuses things, but the fact is that the people of Leadership Journal are not the people of Christianity Today magazine, nor does one group answer to the other group. If you want to make a difference here, I recommend that you amend your protest, or else you’re sending the (appropriately) angry readers to the wrong address. It’s like protesting UPS when FedEx damages your package… both services are owned by the same parent company, but that doesn’t mean treating them as one entity will do much good. And now, it’s people at CT magazine (who have the good sense not to publish stuff like the offending article) who are getting punished.

    Respectfully,

    Jeffrey Overstreet

  • NobodyYouKnow

    I grew up with exactly this. Grown man takes what he wants from a 12-year-old, a 7-year-old, a toddler for crying out loud, then makes peace with his dear and fluffy Lord, and every thing is fine…except for the child. Lather, rinse, repeat. At least one daughter, seven granddaughters and one great-granddaughter later, man apparently goes to heaven. Nice to see it hasn’t gotten any better. :/

  • dangjin1

    another woman who proves scripture right when it says ‘women are to be silent in the church.’

    it is clear that she ignores the truth in order to try and import her warped views onto a situation she knows little about. She does NOT know the people involved, she does not know the circumstances yet feels qualified to bad mouth the person who knew his own heart and what actually took place.

    she is also not an authority over CT so she cannot tell them what to or what not to publish. the very freedom she seeks for this blog has to be extended to CT’s publications. They are free to publish what they want.regardless of the feelings of the above author.

    she also doesn’t know what justice is, fairness, or what laws were broken so it is best for her to obey scripture and remain silent.

    I see nothing of God or the Bible in her words above so she needs to shut up. she is only seeking her own will not God’s.

    • KatR

      Well, CT just took the post down and apologized, so to please feel free to go sucketh it. (KJV)

    • Handsfull

      Yes, scripture says ‘women are to be silent in the church.’ However, what has that got to do with anything? This is a blog, not a church!

    • JenniferGerber

      “warped views”?? It doesn’t take a rocket scientist or someone with personal knowledge of the people involved to say “Hey! Let’s not glorify predatory child abuse!” What is WRONG WITH YOU?

  • Heather

    Does anyone know where I can finish reading the article? I started this morning and got busy. When I came back to finish tonight, it’s all been pulled. The link CT offers to the web archives only has the first page. Thank you!

  • D P

    The guy was NOT a rapist. They had a consensual relationship. Did you ever stop to think about how the GIRL was affected by having her lover/partner ripped away from her? How she must have cried when she could no longer see him? How embarrassed and humiliated she must have felt when everyone started jamming their noses into her business, calling her a “victim”, and telling her that she shouldn’t have had the feelings that she had?

    No, I didn’t think so. You don’t really care about HER – you just care about having another excuse to put a man in prison. That’s what feminism has become – an excuse to destroy men, in any way, for any reason.

    • JenniferGerber

      I’m sure the girl has some very confusing emotions. Hopefully her parents will get her some quality therapy by a trained professional.

      This has nothing to do with feminism—EVERY FREAKING PERSON should be shouting out against child abuse. Good gosh man, what is wrong with you that you are defending a child molester???

      • D P

        When you call this situation “child abuse”, you’re displaying a lack of
        care about the individual(s) involved. You’re applying blanket
        legalistic generalizations to a unique situation with unique people,
        with emotions of their own.

        It’s actually you (and people who share your attitude) who are forcing this girl into a box, forcing her to conform to your standards about who is allowed to love whom, and who isn’t. So she was a particular age – so what? I’m more concerned about what she was FEELING. Did any of you stop to ask yourselves what she was FEELING? Or were you so eager to spread the man-shame that you overlooked that pesky little detail?

        I’m approaching this with a concern about the girl’s feelings, and
        you’re approaching it like she’s just a number. 16. That’s all she is. No emotions, no complexity, no desires, not even a will of her own.
        Just a number. That’s all she is to you. “16.”

        Nothing but a number.

        And that type of thinking has more in common with rape than anything the dude said in the CT article. Treating someone as nothing more than a number IS rape. The girl might have been totally in love with this guy, and totally heartbroken by what you and your society have done to her. And don’t even get me started on what you did to HIM – throwing a man in a cage for years? That’s BEYOND rape.

        But you probably don’t care about that, because he’s just a man.

        • http://www.elizabethesther.com/ elizabethesther

          DP, this is your last comment here. Goodbye.

          • D P

            For what? Sharing a view that’s different from yours? If you disagree with what I’ve written, then by all means, refute it. Deleting it doesn’t prove anything – all it proves is that you have access to the mod functions.

            If what I’ve said is really so bad, then you should have no trouble debunking/rebutting/refuting it based on its intrinsic merits (or supposed lack thereof).

            Go ahead, tell me why you disagree with what I wrote. I’m listening.

        • http://imperfectfornow.blogspot.com/ Mackman

          Just want to point out that previous comments by this caring, intelligent individual (accessible by going to his disqus profile) include blaming the entire female gender for shunning the Isla Vista shooter and causing the shootings. Clearly a well-balanced and fair-thinking man.

        • http://www.elizabethesther.com/ elizabethesther

          I don’t allow trolls on my site. You have been blocked. Adios.

    • Talitha Cumi

      DP? Even if you’re not the DP I think you are, you’re still a massive tool.

  • Franklin Bacon

    The entire christian system is one that sets itself up for this kind of abuse. Placing leaders in positions of fake authority over parishioners, it is sure to happen again and again. Why the hierarchy? Why do we place our children in the hands of strangers, then act surprised and appalled that they used that authority to their own advantage?

  • momofasinner

    I totally agree that Christianity Today is NOT a platform for a story such as this. I also have a serious issue with the blame sharing/shifting in the piece. However, we are all sinners, saved by grace. Even a rapist, if he is truly repentant, can come back to the fold. Do I think he should ever be in a position to be unsupervised around children again? absolutely not. Do I think he deserves the vitriol and name-calling I see in some of the comments? nope. Consequences for actions yes. Saying he’s not worthy of being called a Christian? um… pretty sure we’d all fall into unworthy.

  • Garp

    I am glad they took down the article and put up a post that addresses at
    least some of the criticism that I actually had of the whole frickin
    situation. However they did not address how the editors thought this was
    an okay piece to publish which is still disturbing, but at least they
    took it down. Thank you Elizabeth Esther for highlighting this story, and for being a voice for the voiceless.

  • Heather Dawn Celoria

    “I can only hope that this particular victim felt fought for and seen in ways that so many will never experience.”

    http://www.heatherceloria.com/letthemhavedominionblog/2014/6/14/a-cautionary-tale-about-rape-culture-in-the-church