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Monday, Sep 22, 2014

Church's Film With Sex Offender a 'Perfect, Tragic Picture' of What's Wrong in Its Response to Sex Abuse, Says Billy Graham's Grandson

  • (Photo: Screen capture/Mark Wyatt/YouTube)
    Former Mary G. Montgomery High School math teacher Alicia Gray, 28, was convicted of having sex with a student under 19, in Mobile. Ala., on Friday, Jan. 10, 2014.
January 21, 2014|2:10 pm

The grandson of American evangelist Billy Graham and executive director of GRACE, a Christian sex abuse victim ministry, blasted a church video featuring a convicted sex offender apologizing for her crimes.

Boz Tchividjian appeared on Janet Mefferd's radio show last week to speak out against the film, which he alleged paints a "perfect, tragic picture" of what is wrong in the Church's response to sex abuse.

"Why? Why make a video and post this? My guess would be that the [Deeper Life Fellowship] wants to show 'Look how Christ can transform somebody else.' But what ends up coming up after the video is that there are four or five things that I have seen over and over again in responses to offenders by the church," said Tchividjian.

Tchividjian told The Christian Post on Tuesday that by creating the film, while this might not have been the church's intention, it was once again bypassing "the incredible needs of victims."

"Often times [churches] simply ignore them. Or, often times their focus is so fixated on the offender that they lose contact with the one who has been hurt the most in all of this and that's the child," he said.

Tchividjian criticized the church's pastor and some of the media coverage of the case for using the word "relationship" to describe the abuse.

"Sexual contact between an adult and a child is a crime. It's not a relationship, it's a crime," he added.

He also listed five ways in which he believes the church's video has done a disservice to the victim.

First, Alicia Gray, the convicted sex offender, had "emphasized that she was a completely changed person," which distanced herself from the person she was when she committed the crime.

"In fact she didn't even call it a crime," Tchividian told Mefferd. "She called it 'inappropriate behavior. I'm just a new person now. I can just move on now.'"

Gray told viewers that she understood "the damage she had caused"—a claim that Tchividjian said did not ring true.

"As a perpetrator committing a second-degree felony, you're telling [them] you understand the pain and bitterness you caused a 14-year-old boy?" he challenged.

Tchividjian also said that Gray had minimized the offense by referring to her "felony" as "selfish."

"Think about if you were the family, or 14-year-old boy, to hear the person who perpetuated this horrific abuse to refer to it as 'inappropriate' or 'selfish' behavior," he said.

By having Grey speak about herself and referring to things in her life that "drove" her to committ the crime, the video makes it unclear who the real victim is in this situation, Tchividjian asserted.

Gray's comments that she would "pray for each of you all to be free of bitterness and anxiety," were very harmful to victims, said Tchividjian.

"If I'm in pain and [have bitterness] because you raped me…you're turning it around on me and telling me that's not godly—that does so much damage," he added.

Earlier this month, former high school teacher Gray, 28, plead guilty to charges of second-degree sodomy, second-degree sexual abuse and being a school employee who has had sexual contact with a student younger than 19, after she was charged last February.

After her conviction, Gray and her church made a seven-minute video, where she shared her statement from the trial.

In the film, Deeper Life Fellowship's senior pastor, Mark Wyatt, explained that his church decided to show love for her regardless of the verdict in her trial.

"I acted out of my own insecurities without thought and concern or anyone else's feelings," Gray states in the video. "I had pain in my own heart and a void that I thought I needed to fill through attention and all kinds of other things, and that void was just needing Jesus."

Source URL : http://www.christianpost.com/news/churchs-film-with-sex-offender-a-perfect-tragic-picture-of-whats-wrong-in-its-response-to-sex-abuse-says-billy-grahams-grandson-113025/