Chapter 11 - In which we confront the crazy in-laws head on, with little effect.

To understand this post, you should really read the previous one.
Trigger warnings: child molestation, religous wackjobbery.

I shivered and considered asking for the heat in the counselor’s office to be turned up, then thought better of it.  I wasn’t cold.  I was furious.

My in-laws had agreed to meet with us, my wife’s counselor, and our pastor.  It wasn’t going well.

My wife and I talked a bit about why we were mad.  My in-laws had come to visit before we knew about the molestation that had occurred.  Our three year old daughter had slept in their bed.

But my mother-in-law assured us that she “had prayed about it” (for my non-Christian readers, this is Christian-speak for “If you tell me I'm wrong, you're disagreeing with God, who conveniently agrees with me”).  And she had asked Nathan if he thought his father was a threat to other children.  He had said no, he didn’t think so.  Well, gosh, how could we be mad when she had done such exhaustive research!  She had asked a deity!  And the victim of her husband’s abuse!   

Then, we laid out our requests/demands, which seemed very reasonable to us: we wanted her parents to get professional counseling, and tell the deacons of their church (where her father was the pastor) about the molestation that had occurred.  

My in-laws had assured us they weren’t going to try to defend themselves during this meeting.  They then proceeded to defend themselves for two solid hours.  They threw up excuse after excuse for not telling the deacons: the molestation had occurred before they were at this church.  It had occurred years ago and had been dealt with.  This was the first church where my mother-in-law felt like she had a real church family.  They hadn’t sought out this church, the church had sought them out (which they offered as ironclad “proof” that it was “God’s will” that they be at this church.

“Well, if your god is SO all powerful, why don’t you just tell the deacons what happened?  If he really wants you to be at this church, he’ll make sure you stay there no matter what.” I said angrily.

They danced around that question the whole time without answering it.  Because they didn’t have one.

Real counseling was out of the question.  It wasn’t “biblical”.  When I asked them why they didn’t have a problem with doctors (another topic not addressed in the Bible) they hemmed and hawed and didn’t really answer the question.  Because they didn’t have one.

“Well, I think you’ve made that perfectly clear.” my father-in-law replied calmly.  Oh sure, make ME look like the crazy one.

We were assured that they had gotten counselling with a pastor.  That’s past tense - the counseling is over as far as I know.  This pastor who found the question of whether my father-in-law should confess to his deacons such a stumper that he had to ask multiple other pastors about what the correct course of action was.  And when those pastors couldn’t agree, he told my father-in-law what they had said and left the decision up to him.

Gee, I guess the Bible isn’t as clear as some make it out to be.

They didn’t come out and say that the molestation was Nathan’s (my wife’s brother) fault.  But they didn’t have to.  Nathan had come to HIS bed, my father-in-law insisted.  And he was sixteen, not a child.

Here’s the thing: if you’re a parent, and your kid crawls into bed with you and initiates sexual contact (I find clinical words to be very helpful when writing about this), you have....oooohhhh, let’s say, five seconds to stop it.  That’s the amount of time you need to have this discussion in your head:

“Oh, my kid is in my bed.  Weird, since they’re sixteen...”
“Now they’re...”

And then you JUMP THE FUCK OUT OF BED.  Like there was a king cobra in it that was about to strike.  And get your kid some counseling.

If you are fully or partially asleep, I’ll be gracious and not count the time spent waking up toward the five second limit.  I’m a reasonable man.

Not only did my father-in-law violate the five second rule, it happened several times (I’m not privy to the exact number).  But, my father-in-law assured, he had PUT A STOP TO IT.


Here’s the other thing: sixteen is below the legal age of consent.  What my father-in-law did is a crime. Statutory rape.  

Somehow we never got around to that subject at the meeting, I don’t know why.  I wasn’t thinking very clearly, to be honest.  At one point I was yelling so loudly that someone in an adjoining office had to come in and politely ask me to keep it down.

One thing did keep coming up:  why was it any of the deacons business?  After all, my in-laws pointed out, everyone’s a sinner.  No one gives a list of their prior sins at a job interview, even pastors.  

Funny - my in-laws are ultra conservative Baptists, always bemoaning the fact that nobody takes responsibility for their actions, and that churches don’t talk about sin enough and portray God as loving but not judging.  Now they were suddenly concerned about grace.  Oh well - Michael J Fox probably didn’t care about Parkinson’s disease before he was diagnosed with it.

This, of course, would have been the perfect time to point out that what my father-in-law had done WAS A FELONY, but like I said, it didn’t occur to me.  We did point out that my father-in-law was head of the youth ministry, and had lock-ins at the church with the youth group.

We were informed that was OK, because there was a chaperone.  Who?  Why, my wife’s younger sister, of course.  The one who just couldn’t understand why we were so mad about the whole situation.  Phew, what a relief.

My in-laws asked for some time to consider whether they would tell the deacons.  We were OK with this.  They still refused to get counselling.  They said it “was OK for some, but it wasn’t for them.”  Huh, the fundamentalists who insisted upon black and white answers to everything were now suddenly comfortable with shades of gray.  Halle-freakin-lulah!  Well, forcing them to get counseling wouldn’t really do any good.  Counseling is only effective if the people being counseled want to be there.  So we were disappointed, but there wasn’t much we could do about it.

What did the counselor and our pastor do during all this, you ask?  Well, not bloody much.  To be honest, I didn’t expect the counselor to say much, she was there as more of an observer and for moral support for my wife.

The pastor in question, for those of you familiar with my blog, was not the one who had been caught in adultery, or in an unspecified “inappropriate relationship” with his secratary.  It was the head pastor.   We had hoped he could talk to my father-in-law pastor to pastor and talk some sense into him.

Well, he didn’t say much either.  In fact, he said almost nothing.  He did say that my father-in-law should consider telling the deacons so he “had some accountability”, but that was pretty much it.  It was pretty anti-climactic.

In fact, my father-in-law told my wifes other siblings that he felt vindicated because both our pastor and the counselor agreed with him that he didn’t need to tell the deacons anything.

What.  The.  Fuck.  

Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt.  Sometimes it’s a river of shit running straight through your living room.  

So now my wife and I are faced with a choice: do we notify the authorities of what happened?  Do we tell the deacons at her father’s church for him?

The answer, of course, is YES WE SHOULD.  The authorities can’t do much because my brother-in-law has said he won’t come forward as a complaining witness.  Also, he’s no longer a minor and isn’t living with his parents.  Our counselor confiemed as much (since she’s a mandated reporter).  I don’t know what the deacons would do if we told them, but we taped the entire meeting and didn’t tell my in-laws, so we have proof.  

Tee hee!

And if this involved Joe Schmoe down the street, we would have done so already.  But we haven’t.  You see, I’m a coward when it comes to conflict.  And I don’t think my wife or I wants to believe that this was anything but an isolated incident.  Who wants to believe their father is a predator?

So I’m pressing you into service, dear readers.  True, I blog anonymously, but I am hoping comments from you will light a fire under my cowardly ass.  Because the fact is, we don’t know that this was an isolated incident.  And if this happens to another kid, we need to know we did everything we could to prevent it from happening.

It’s what I would want someone else to do for my children.


  1. I'm not sure if you are still looking for input, but I just came across this blog while my family is reeling from the discovery that one of us was molested by a person in a position of trust. We don't know if this person only had one victim, no one else has come forward...but that doesn't mean anything, because the person who was trusted was connected to my family member through church. It is possible that the guilt, and fear of shame and reprisal is keeping any other victims quiet. It is never ok to destroy a reputation for fun or malice, but neither is it ok to remain silent while evil is being done. It might be possible to keep your family's reputation intact while still making sure the innocent are protected. If not, I think that this kind of behavior is rarely isolated, and it is possible that innocents could suffer from your silence. I'm truly sorry, it is a rotten position to be put in.

  2. I pray you have shouted this to any who would listen. When some other father's son hangs himself because he was molested and no one told, if that abuser is your father-in-law, how will you live with yourself? How will you be able to meet the eyes of your own children?