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Christian Parents Blaming Sex Assault Victims, Defending Their Unrepentant Children: College Pastor

Christian Parents Blaming Sex Assault Victims, Defending Their Unrepentant Children: College Pastor

People participate in a protest march for survivors of sexual assault and their supporters in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S. November 12, 2017. | (Photo: Reuters/Lucy Nicholson)

Christian parents sometimes not only attempt to justify the sexual assault carried out by their children, but also blame the victim, a college pastor and Presbyterian minister has said.

Moses Y. Lee, an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church in America and director of campus ministry OneU DC, who is studying at Westminster Theological Seminary, shared of such experiences in an article for The Gospel Coalition on Monday:

"During my past six years serving as a college pastor, some of my most disturbing conversations have been with unrepentant sexual assault perpetrators and their defensive Christian parents. In their attempts to justify their actions, too often I would hear from the perpetrators (and their parents), 'Have you seen her Instagram account? Do you know what she's like at parties? But she made the first move. Well, she asked for it. She has a history.' And so on," Lee wrote.

"With more than 20 percent of female undergraduate students experiencing some form of sexual assault or misconduct, these tendencies to blame the victim have led some to demand action or even walk away from the faith. But does Scripture remain silent to the injustice of victim-blaming? Does God remain silent to the cries of victims for redemption from their shame?" he positioned.

Lee pointed to the definition of victim-blaming as offered by Harvard Law School, which in part states it is based on the assumption that "an individual did something to provoke the violence by actions, words, or dress."

The pastor noted that when it comes to concerns of false reporting, only two to 10 percent of rape allegations turn out to be false.

"Hence, ministry leaders — especially those serving college students — must be hyper-vigilant in listening to their sheep, reporting suspected abuse, and protecting the vulnerable from perpetrators," he urged.

"Contrary to those who argue Scripture normalizes violence by including narratives of war, pillaging, and sexual assault, it's more likely such passages are included to compel God's people to confront the uncomfortable realities of sin and brokenness in our world."

Lee pointed to the story of Tamar's rape in Samuel 13 as one example where the Bible delves into the trauma of the crime.

He notes that instead of being blamed for what happened, the Bible alluded to her eventual redemption, while also describing the destruction of the perpetrator, Amnon.

"The former reveals God's compassionate heart for victims and his promise of redemption; the latter his unwavering desire for justice against sexual assault perpetrators," the pastor suggests.

He insisted that Christians have a responsibility to care for those who have been victimized, and to take any claim of sexual assault seriously.

"To dismiss a woman's account of sexual assault without any evidence because of her 'reputation' is to deny our own 'reputation' of sinful rebellion prior to coming to Christ," he wrote.

"Certainly we should pursue truth and justice for both victims and the accused, while upholding the judicial principle of innocent until proven guilty. Christ-like compassion and redemptive justice should extend to the accused as well as the accuser," he added.

"But the tragic story of Tamar should compel us to avoid rushing to justify the sins of perpetrators in order to save face or to reassure ourselves that things aren't as bad as they seem. Our Savior's ministry to women, the powerless, and the marginalized should lead us to be wary of joining in the pervasive and toxic social phenomenon of victim blaming."

Christian author John Stonestreet also talked about Christian responsibility in the age of #MeToo in an October 2017 Christian Post op-ed.

"Too often, in our churches and Christian institutions, we have turned a blind eye or pretended to not know about the sexual abuse or harassment happening within. That's a horrific betrayal of people made in the image of God, as well as of the truth that can set them free," he warned.

"On no altar, especially not political expediency or cultural relevance, can Christians ever sacrifice the beautiful, life-giving vision of human sexuality that the Bible presents. To do so is to rob the world of a divine gift that has changed cultures in the past, and can do so again," he added.

Follow Stoyan Zaimov on Facebook: CPSZaimov

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